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Since the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960, swimming has been one of the main sports of the Paralympics. Like the Olympic Games, competitors measure their skills in freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and medley events.
Swimming is open to both male and female competitors who have a physical disability, intellectual disability or blindness/visual impairment. Athletes are classified based on their functional ability to perform each stroke. The International Swimming Federation (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. No prostheses or assistive devices are permitted.
Para-Swimming is governed internationally by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). In Australia, the Australian Paralympic Committee is the National Federation for the sport. Through a mainstreaming Agreement, the APC funds Swimming Australia to deliver the Paralympic Preparation Program.
- Freestyle – 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 4X50m, 4X100m
- Backstroke – 50m, 100m
- Breaststroke – 50m, 100m
- Butterfly – 50m, 100m
- Individual Medley – 150m, 200m
- Medley Relay – 4X100m
Who is eligible for Swimming? Athletes with a physical impairment, vision impairment or intellectual disability.
What are the classes? Athletes are classified into classes depending on their functional ability.
Athletes with a physical impairment: Classes 1 to 10
Athletes with a vision impairment: Classes 11 - 13
Athletes with an intellectual impairment: Class 14
Athletes are given classifications with a prefix S, SB, and SM, to indicate the different strokes.
•S indicates the class for freestyle, backstroke and butterfly events
•SB indicates the class for breaststroke events
•SM indicates the class for medley events
How do I get a classification? Request a classification using the Get classified form.
Classification Rules, Forms, Policies and Procedures: View International and National Swimming Classification resources.
Classification Masterlist: Swimmers who have been nationally or internationally classified as per IPC Classification Rules or APC/SAL Classification Policy are automatically included in the Masterlist. Australian Swimming Classification Masterlist
Rules & Equipment
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.
Swimming caps and protective eye-goggles are permitted. The goggles protect the swimmer's eyes as well as improving their vision in the water.