Classification is the grouping of athletes in a sport to ensure there is a fair playing field, and in disability swimming this breaks down into two main forms: Functional and Disability Specific classification. Read on to learn more.


Functional Classification System

Co-ordinated by British Swimming, this system is for swimmers with a physical impairment and entails the assessment of a swimmer's functional mobility by IPC Swimming trained classifiers. The process involves a bench test, water test and observation in competition. This type of classification also enables the identification of stroke exceptions applicable to an individual swimmer.

A minimum of two classifiers form a classification team consisting of a medical classifier, such as a doctor or physiotherapist, and a technical classifier, such as a swimming coach.

In the first instance swimmers will need to obtain a British Swimming classification and then as they progress along the elite pathway will be put forward for an international classification.

Click to download the Functionnal Classification Application Form

Click here to download the Funtional Classification Application Form - LARGE FONT

The Functional Classification process is co-ordinated by British Swimming and is the assessment of a swimmer’s functional ability and graded on a scale from S1-S15. For full details and eligibility guidelines for disability swimming please click on the link below.

Click Here to download Classification Eligibility Guidelines for Disability Swimming (S1 - S15)
For further information on any of these processes or systems please contact the Disability Swimming Administrator on 01625 440434 or email

Disability Specific Classification system

This system is co-ordinated by the relevant Disability Sports Organisations and allows swimmers of a similar and specific disability to compete against one another. There are individual classification systems for visually impaired, hearing impaired and learning impaired swimmers. For further information on any of these please follow the links below

Visually Impaired  British Blind Sports
Hearing Impaired British Deaf Swimming
Intellectual Disability Mencap


There are two types of classifier needed. These are a medical and a technical classifier, which make up a working pair. A medical classifier will either be a doctor or physiotherapist, and a technical classifier will be an ASA club coach.

Click here to read both British Swimming and International Disability Swimmer Classification Status

Becoming a Classifer

Are you a doctor or physiotherapist with an interest in swimming, or know of anyone who fits this description? Alternatively are you an ASA qualified Club Coach with sound up to date technical knowledge, and with an interest in or experience of working with disabled swimmers? If so please contact your ASA Regional Director for further information on how to become a classifier, or email the disability swimming team at