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.