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Para swimming

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Para swimming is one of the original Paralympic disciplines, featuring at the first Games in 1960 and is now one of the most popular Paralympic sports. Athletes with all kinds of physical and mental disabilities can swim, as practising is straightforward and the sport does not require any specific equipment (prostheses are not allowed).  

Breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, freestyle and the medley all feature on the programme at the Paralympic Games across various distances, apart from middle distance events (800m and 1500m).  

Brief overview of the rules 

All athletes compete according to their disability classification to ensure that the competition is as fair as possible. 

Swimmers start with a dive or directly in the water if their disability prevents them from using a starting platform. Help is given to any swimmers who cannot hold the grip on their own.  

Athletes with vision impairments are helped by an assistant, who tap the swimmer’s head with a tapping device as they approach the turn(s) or finish of the race.  

Eligible impairments 

Vision impairments and blindness, intellectual impairments, any physical disabilities limiting movement. 

International federation 

Swimming is overseen by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and World Para Swimming: www.paralympic.org

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