"One of the best activities for total body fitness..."
Open to men and women of all ages, Swimming has been a Paralympic sport since the inaugural Games in 1960.
An extremely physically demanding sport, swimming has been identified as one of the best activities for total body fitness, whether you compete at elite level or just for fun.
Swimmers with a functional, visual or intellectual impairment are eligible to compete within the Paralympic Movement.
Those with a functional impairment are classified by their ability into 10 groups (S1-10).
Those with a visual impairment currently compete within three groups (S11-13), and those with an intellectual impairment have one classification group (S14).
Enter your postcode into our Find a Club tool, to find your nearest disability swimming pool or club.
Additional information and useful links
History of Swimming
History of Swimming
The first International Games for atheltes with impairments was held in1948 for those with spinal cord related injuries and swimming was a major sport with this event.
At the Paralympic Games swimmers compete in events ranging from 50m to 400m (in some non-Paralympic events both 800m and 1500m are also contested). Prior to the 1990 World Championships swimmers with a physical impairment competed against other swimmers from their own impairment group. In 1991 a functional classification system was introduced to enable all physically impaired swimmers to compete against each other regardless of their impairment group.
Physically impaired swimmers are assessed for their functional ability both on land and in the water, and then observed in competition. They are then given “S” classification for freestyle, backstroke and butterfly. The lower the “S” number the more severely impaired the swimmer. Swimmers may be given a different “SB” (Breaststroke) or “SM” (Individual Medley) classification dependent on their functional ability.
Swimmers are assessed for their functional ability and compete against swimmers within the same Classification.
The Classification groups are as follows:-
i) Physically impaired Classes: S1 to S10
ii) Visually impaired Classes: S11, S12, S13
iii) Learning disabilities Class: S14
National Governing Body
British Swimming is the national governing body for Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo and Open Water in Great Britain. It is responsible internationally for the high performance representation of the sport.
The members of British Swimming are the three Home Countries national governing bodies of England (ASA), Scotland (Scottish Swimming) and Wales (Swim Wales).