Para – Swimming


About the sport
Since the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960, Swimming has been one of the main sports of the Paralympics. As in the Olympic Games, competitors measure their skills in Freestyle, Backstroke, Butterfly, Breaststroke and Medley events. In 2008, athletes from more than 80 countries practice the sport, with male and female competitors having either a physical disability or blindness/visual impairment. Athletes are classified based on their functional ability to perform each stroke. Swimming is governed by the IPC and co-ordinated by the IPC Swimming Technical Committee, which incorporates the rules of the International Swimming Federation (FINA). The FINA rules are followed with a few modifications, such as optional platform or in-water starts for some races and the use of signals or ‘tappers’ for swimmers with blindness/visual impairment; however, no prostheses or assistive devices are permitted.

Competition Description
A FINA standard eight-lane 50m pool is required for competition at the Paralympic Games. Events are conducted as heats for eight competitors per class and with the fastest eight swimmers per class competing in the finals. There are various forms for swimmers to start their race; in the water, a dive start sitting on the starting platform or the typical standing start.
During a Swimming event, swimmers who are blind are required to have an assistant to help him/her as he or she approaches the swimming pool end wall, either to make a turn or for the finish of the race. This process is called tapping and performed by a “tapper”. These swimmers are also required to wear blackened goggles in all their events.



Swimming has been part of the Paralympic programme since the first Games in Rome in 1960. During the Games in Sydney 2000, 352 men and 216 women from 62 countries participated and more than 200,000 spectators attended the Swimming events over nine days of competition. The level of the athletes’ performances at the Paralympic Games have constantly improved over the years as a result of more intense and efficient training methods.

Sports Equipment
Swimming suits: The clothing for swimmers is a bathing suit. It is forbidden for athletes to use anything that may aid the swimmers speed, buoyancy, or endurance.
Other equipment: Swimming caps and protective eye-goggles are permitted. The goggles protect the swimmers’ eyes as well as improving their vision in the water.

Classification for Swimmers:
Swimmers will be classified in the following classes:
S1 to S14
SB 1 to SB8
For more detail: IPC Swimming Classification Rules and Regulations / IPC Swimming / www.swimmingsouthafrica .co.za

Jan Wahl
Swimming Convener FSSAPD
Tel/Fax: (+) 27 51 402 1779
Cell: (+) 27 76 404 9798
E-mail: jan@fssapd.co.za

Attached documents:

IPC Swimming Classification Rules and Regulations
IPC Swimming Rules and Regulations 2011-2014