Swimming at the Paralympic Games

At the first ever Paralympic Games during 1960 in Rome, there was only eight sports included. Swimming was one of them, and is now one of the most popular. With over 500 athletes, including male and female, in 70 countries around the world, actively competing through a range of events and classifications, it is no surprise that it is so popular.

Swimmers are classified with regards to their functional ability on each stroke, and can compete in freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and medley events. Each race occurs in a 50m pool, the total distances to be covered vary from 50m to 400m.

The events are open to athletes with physical, intellectual or visual impairments. Depending on which classification an athlete is in, there may be modifications such as optional starting platforms or in-water starts. There are a total of 13 different classifications, athletes may fit into different classifications for each event, since their impairment can affect different strokes in different ways. Hence, these classes are known as functional classifications.

The athlete who covers the required distance in the fastest time, wins. There are a series of heats, known as qualification rounds, followed by the finals, in order to decide the winner.

Trischa Zorn is an incredible Paralympian who deserves a mention. Having totalled 32 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze medals between 1980 and 2004, she is the sports most decorated athlete.

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