Unsure how swimmers with different disabilities can compete against one another fairly? This page will help you to understand the various classifications for competitive swimming.

The swimming classification process

The classification process is coordinated by the ASA. It entails the assessment of a swimmer's functional mobility by IPC Swimming trained classifiers. The process involves a bench test and water test and takes no more than one hour. This type of classification also enables the identification of stroke exemptions applicable to an individual swimmer.

Swimming is the only sport that combines the conditions of limb loss, cerebral palsy (coordination and movement restrictions), spinal cord injury (weakness or paralysis involving any combination of the limbs) and other disabilities (such as Dwarfism or major joint restriction conditions) across classes.

Classes 1-10 are allocated to swimmers with a physical disability

Classes 11-13 are allocated to swimmers with a visual disability

Prefix S to the Class denotes the class for Freestyle, Backstroke and Butterfly.

Prefix SB to the class denotes the class for Breaststroke.

Prefix SM to the class denotes the class for Individual Medley.

The range is from swimmers with a severe disability (S1, SB1 and SM1) to those with the minimal disability (S10, SB9 and SM10).

In any one class some swimmers may start with a dive or in the water depending on their condition. This is also factored in when classifying the athlete.

Sascha's Classification

Sascha has cerebral palsy which affects two limbs on his body, specifically his right arm and right leg. As his disability is not the most severe, he is classified as follows:

Freestyle, Backstroke and Butterfly - S6

Breaststroke - SB7

Individual Medley - SM6

Further information

A full breakdown of classifications can be found here.


© Sascha Kindred