Classification provides a structure for competition. Athletes competing in Paralympic sports have an impairment that leads to a competitive disadvantage in sport. Consequently, a system has to be put in place to minimize the impact of impairments on sport performance and to ensure the success of an athlete is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus. This system is called classification.

There are three types of classification: physical (S1-S10), visual (S11-S13) and intellectual (S14).

There are ten different types of impairments:

  • Impaired muscle power
  • Impaired passive range of movement
  • Loss of limb or limb deficiency
  • Leg-length difference
  • Short stature
  • Hypertonia
  • Ataxia
  • Athetosis
  • Visual
  • Intellectual

Physical Impairment

To be classified with a physical impairment, a swimmer’s functional mobility is assessed by World Para Swimming trained classifiers. The process involves a physical test, technical test and observation in competition, during which time a swimmer’s classification will be determined along with the identified stroke exceptions applicable to the individual.

A minimum of two classifiers form a classification panel consisting of a medical classifier (a doctor or physiotherapist), who will have undertaken the British Para-Swimming classifier training, and a technical classifier (a swimming coach).

Visual Impairment

Swimmers with a visual impairment range from blind to visually impaired. When testing is undertaken, the classification is allocated based upon sight in best eye with best correction.

Intellectual Impairment

Swimmers with an intellectual impairment have to meet the eligibility criteria.

  1. An IQ of 75 or below
  2. Evidence of significant limitations in adaptive behaviour
  3. Evidence of onset before the age of 18.

For more information about para swimming classification please contact our team on [email protected] or see the British Para Swimming Classification page