Introduction to Swimming

Swimming is a great activity for a person to do and can be done in numerous of ways based on an individual’s likes and dislikes, how their condition has effected them and whether they want to swim competitively or just relax and enjoy the freedom of being in the water. As mentioned, swimming can be done competitively or just as a recreational activity. This can be done in a standard pool, or a hydrotherapy, warmer, type of pool if recreational. Similarly, while competitive swimming allows individuals to race with each other, swimming generally can also have numerous of physical and psychological benefits including the development of strength, improvement of self-esteem, improvement of mobility as well as the chance to interact with other people.

Swimming Events

Within competitive swimming, individuals can participate in five events over a number of different distances. These events and distances are:

  1. The Freestyle, which can be done over 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m
  1. The Backstroke, which can be done over 50m and 100m
  1. The Breaststroke, which can be done over 50m and 100m
  1. The Butterfly, which can be done over 50m and 100m
  1. The Individual Medley, which can be done over 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m

Individuals can also participate in a 50m and 100m Freestyle and Medley team relays as well as a 5km Open Water swim. However, apart from the allowance of an assistant to help you either at a start and end of a race, individuals are not allowed any floatation aids or assistance to swim. Although, individuals with visual impairments maybe allowed an assistant to warn them when they are near the pool wall. Additionally, depending on the organisers, some individuals in different classes may only be allowed to do certain events.

Eligible Impairment Types

Competitive swimming is open to everyone with a physical, visual, intellectual and hearing impairment, although individuals with hearing impairments mostly compete separately due to IPC (International Paralympic Committee) rules. Also, all individuals will need to swim unaided if they want to swim competitively.

Classification Classes including Cerebral Palsy athletes

Whilst there is no single classification for individuals with Cerebral Palsy in swimming, the classification system is designed to make sure that individuals are classified fairly according to:

  1. How their impairment(s) has affected them,
  1. How this has then affected their functional ability and abilities to do different swimming movements,
  1. Whether the effects of their impairment(s) is similar and can be classed as similar to a different individual with a different medical condition.

As competitive swimming is open to all individuals, the classification system runs from S1 to S15 with ‘S’ meaning swimming freestyle, butterfly and backstroke, where individuals may also get a ‘SB’ classification code if they are do the breaststroke.

For individuals with physical impairments, individuals will be classed anywhere between a S1 to S10 (SB1 to SB10 for breaststroke), where they will be given a lower classification if their impairment effects them to swim more and a higher classification if their impairment effects them less.


Under Development