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Para swimming

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 

All types of impairment, including intellectual impairments. 


  • Letter: S (= Swimming)
  • Number: 1 to 10 = physical impairment / 11 à 13 = vision impairment / 14 = intellectual impairment.N.B. We might sometimes see SB for Breaststroke / SM for Medley.
Further information about paralympic classification

Events in 2024

The para swimming events will take place between the 29th of August and the 7th of September 2024.

  • 50m freestyle S4, S10, S11, S13 (women’s-men’s)
  • 50m freestyle S6, S8 (women’s)
  • 50m freestyle S3, S5, S7, S9 (men’s)
  • 100m freestyle S3, S7, S9, S11 (women’s)
  • 100m freestyle S4, S6, S8 (men’s)
  • 100m freestyle S5, S10, S12 (women’s-men’s)
  • 200m freestyle S2, S3, S4 (men’s)
  • 200m freestyle S5, S14 (women’s-men’s)
  • 400m freestyle S10 (women’s)
  • 400m freestyle S6, S7, S8, S9, S11, S13 (women’s-men’s)
  • 50m back S2, S3, S4, S5 (women’s-men’s)
  • 50m back S1 (men’s)
  • 100m back S2, S6, S8, S9, S10, S11, S12, S13, S14 (women’s-men’s)
  • 100m back S1, S7 (men’s)
  • 50m breast SB3 (women’s-men’s)
  • 50m breast SB2 (men’s)
  • 100m breast SB4, SB5, SB6, SB8, SB9, SB11, SB13, SB14 (women’s-men’s)
  • 100m breast SB3 (men’s)
  • 100m breast SB7, SB12 (women’s)
  • 50m fly S5, S6, S7 (women’s-men’s)
  • 100m fly S8, S9, S10, S13, S14 (women’s-men’s)
  • 100m fly S11, S12 (men’s)
  • 150m individual medley SM3 (men’s)
  • 150m individual medley SM4 (women’s-men’s)
  • 200m individual medley SM6, SM7, SM8, SM9, SM10, SM11, SM13, SM14 (women’s-men’s)
  • 200m individual medley SM5 (women)

Venue in 2024

International federation 

Swimming is overseen by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and World Para Swimming.

World Para Swimming

© Christopher Lee/Getty Images

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