About Classification

To ensure competition is fair and equal, all Paralympic sports have a system in place which ensures that winning is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus, the same factors that account for success in sport for able bodied athletes.

This process is called classification and its purpose is to minimise the impact of impairment on the activity (sport discipline). Having an impairment thus is not sufficient. The impact of that impairment on the sport must be proved. In World Para Swimming, athletes are grouped by the degree of activity limitation resulting from an impairment. These groups are called ‘sport classes’. The process of classification determines which athletes are eligible to compete in World Para Swimming and how athletes are grouped together for competition.

Classification is sport-specific because an impairment affects the ability to perform in different sports to a different extent. As a consequence, an athlete may meet the criteria in one sport, but may not meet the criteria in another sport.

S1

Swimmers with very severe coordination difficulties in 4 limbs OR no hand, trunk or leg function and minimal use of shoulders only.

S2

Swimmers able to use arms but no hand, trunk or leg function OR with severe coordination problems in 4 limbs.

S3

Swimmers with reasonable arm strokes but in trunk or leg function; swimmers with severe coordination difficulties or limb loss in 4 limbs.

S4

Swimmers able to use arms and have minimal weakness in hands but no trunk or leg function; swimmers with coordination difficulties affecting 4 limbs but predominantly in the legs; swimmers with limb loss of 3 limbs.

S5

Swimmers with full use of arms and hands but no trunk or leg function OR swimmers with coordination difficulties in all limbs.

S6

Swimmers with full use of arms and hands with some trunk control but no leg function; swimmers with coordination difficulties (usually these athletes walk); swimmers with major limb loss of 2 limbs on the same side; specific type of dwarfism (<130cm for women and 137cm for women). The exception being dwarves who are found in class SB6.

S7

Swimmers with full use of arms and trunk with some leg function; coordination on the same side of the body; major limb loss of 2 limbs.

S8

Swimmers with full use of arms and trunk with some leg function; limb loss of 2 limbs; swimmers with only 1 functional arm.

S9

Swimmers with severe weakness in 1 leg only; swimmers with very slight coordination difficulties; swimmers with 1 limb loss. Unless there is an underlying medical condition, usually all of these athletes will start out in the water.

S10

Swimmers with very minimal weakness affecting the legs; swimmers with restriction of hip joint movement; swimmers with deformation of both feet; swimmers with minor limb loss to part of a limb.

S11

Swimmers are unable to see at all or have minimal light perception and are considered totally blind. They must wear blackened goggles if they swim in this class. They will also require someone to tap them when they are approaching a wall.

S12

Swimmers can recognise the shape of a hand and have some ability to see. There is a large range of vision ability within this class.

S13

Swimmers who are the most sighted but have a significant visual impairment.

S14

Swimmers who have intellectual impairment according to international standards recognised by the International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairment (INAS)

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