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Para Swimming

Swimming Canterbury West Coast has an extremely proud history of Para-Swimming with a number of high profile athletes competing at many of the major international events including the Paralympics.

It is our aim to ensure that we continue to support and grow the para swimming talent within our Region, and will work closely with all regional and national Para-Swimming organisations to ensure that we are offering the best collaborative support possible for our Para-athletes.

What is a Para Classification?

Classification provides a structure for competition. Athletes competing in Paralympic sports have an impairment that leads to a competitive disadvantage in sport.

Consequently, a system has to be put in place to minimize the impact of impairments on sport performance and to ensure the success of an athlete is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus. This system is called classification.

There are three types of classification: physical (S1-S10), visual (S11-S13) and intellectual (S14)

Ten Eligible Impairments

There are eight different types of physical impairments:

  • Impaired muscle power
  • Impaired passive range of movement
  • Loss of limb or limb deficiency
  • Leg-length difference
  • Short stature
  • Hypertonia
  • Ataxia
  • Athetosis

In addition to athletes with physical impairment, athletes with visual or intellectual impairment are also included in the classification system.

Visual Impairment occurs when there is a damage to one or more of the components of the vision system, which can include:

  • impairment of the eye structure/receptors
  • impairment of the optic nerve/optic pathways
  • impairment of the visual cortex

Athletes with an Intellectual Impairment / learning disability are limited in regards to IQ and adaptive behaviour, which is diagnosed before the age of 18 years.

Once classified, swimmers are allocated a classification status.

Where a swimmer is allocated a classification (S1-S14) they will also be allocated relevant exception codes.

There are a number of conditions that do not meet the eligibility criteria as follows:

ADHD Ehlers’ Danlos Syndrome
Arthritis Epilepsy
Aspergers Haemophilia
Asthma Hydrocephalus
Autistic spectrum Obesity
Cystic Fibrosis Learning Difficulties
Diabetes Scoliosis
Dyspraxia Transplants
RSD (Reflex Symphatetic Dystrophy including CRPS - Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)  


Please note that this list is not exhaustive, however provides a guide.


It must be noted that even swimmers who have a diagnosis that meets the eligibility criteria for classification may still not be sufficently impaired to gain a classification.

Athletes wishing to seek further information on Classification and how to apply for it should refer to the following on the Paralympics New Zealand website.

Useful Links

Paralympics New Zealand 

IPC Swimming