I'd like to explain how the disability classification system works in competitive para swimming...
In para- swimming, just like in all other Paralympic sports, there is a classification system to make everything fair; because of the wide range of disabilities and the wider range of varieties within those disabilities. Athletes couldn’t just all enter the 50m freestyle for example and all expect to get a fair race.
To stop this from happening, a system was put in place where every athlete would be assessed in the water and on land by a team of physiotherapists and swimming officials. They put them into a category from 1-14 according to how severe their condition is; 1 being the most severe and 14 being the least. The classifications 1-10 are allocated to people with physical disabilities, 12-13 are for people with a visual impairment and 14 is for people who have intellectual disabilities.
However, that’s not all. A para- swimmer is not only given one classification, they are actually given three; one for freestyle, backstroke and butterfly strokes, one for breaststroke and one for individual medley swimmers. With this system, it means that no disabled swimmer can compete against someone that is not in their classification which makes everything equal.
Unfortunately, this system does sometimes cause upset when people do not get selected for the classification they were hoping for. It means the competition is harder for them but on the upside, classification does get reviewed every four years so if it does need to be changed it can be.
As for me, I am a S7 SB6 SM7 swimmer and my classification is being reviewed next year. I’m looking forward to keeping you updated with more swimming info over the coming year. Find out more about the rules here http://www.paralympics.org.uk/paralympicsports/swimming
If you have any questions about competing or training, then please leave a comment and I’d be happy to answer them.