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Guide to swimming at the London Paralympics 2012

Swimming will be the second biggest competition at the Paralympics, with more than 600 athletes competing to win 148 medals. The swimming events take place at the Aquatics centre from Thursday August 30 to Saturday August 8.

Who will compete in the Paralympics swimming?

600 swimmers in total. 340 men and 260 women. Each country is limited to 34 men and 26 women, and to a maximum of three athletes in each individual event. What are the disability classifications? The Paralympics includes athletes with a range of impairments and disabilities and they compete according to classifications. The classes are: 1–10: Athletes with physical impairments. A Class 1 swimmers’ impairment has the greatest impact on their ability to perform strokes, while class 10 includes swimmers with a disability that has the least impact. 11–13: Visually impaired athletes, from class 11 swimmers with little or no sight to those with limited sight. 14: Athletes with an intellectual impairment.

Isn’t the breaststroke a special case?

Because the breaststroke requires greater leg propulsion than any other stroke, athletes with a physical impairment often compete in a different class for this event. This will also taken into account when athletes compete in the Individual Medley, which includes all the swimming disciplines.

What are the Paralympic swimming categories?

  • An S before the class means Freestyle, Backstroke and Butterfly events.
  • SB before the class means Breaststroke events.
  • SM before the class means Individual Medley events.

So tell us more about swimming at the Paralympics

  • The pool is 50m long, 25m wide and three metres deep. It is divided into 10 lanes, although only the centre eight lanes are used for the Games.
  • Swimming is one of the few sports to have featured at every Paralympic Games since the fist Paralympics in Rome in 1960.
  • There are four strokes: Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly. All four strokes feature in the Individual Medley (apart from the 150m Individual Medley, where only Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle feature) and Medley Relay events. Swimmers also compete in Freestyle Relay.
  • Races range between 50m and 400m.
  • When turning and finishing at the ends of the pool, some part of the swimmers body must touch the wall.
  • Visually impaired swimmers wear blackened goggles to ensure that competition is fair.
  • A “tapper” is used to tell swimmers when they are nearing a wall of the pool and need to turn. A tapper is someone using a pole to “tap” the swimmer.
You hear of disqualifications… How do these occur?
  • A false start
  • Swimming the wrong stroke
  • Not touching the wall at each turn
  • Swimming off in the relay before the team member before you has touched the wall.

1 comment

  • Thanks for this guys, have you seen the para logo, its amazing? Hopefully they can deliver in the pool!

    Jim Randall

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