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Guide to Paralympic Swimming

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Welcome to our armchair guide to swimming at the Paralympics. You’ll find insights from top GB swimmers, a Paralympic swimming jargon buster, Paralympic swimming facts at a glance, Paralympic swimming timeline, and a ones-to-watch calendar so you can plan your TV viewing.


Looking for an introduction to disability swimming for the Paralympics? Then let our athlete videos guide you.


  • Swimming was one of the original sports when Sir Ludwig Guttmann's Stoke Mandeville Games became the first modern Paralympic Games at Rome in 1960.
  • While the Games were originally only open to athletes with spinal injuries, it has gradually become more inclusive and swimmers now compete over 14 classifications.
  • There are ten classifications of physical impairment with S1 the most severe and S10 the least severe. There are also three classifications of visual impairment and S14 for swimmers with learning difficulty.
  • The British team have been at the forefront of swimming at the Paralympic Games - finishing in the top four of the medal table for the past six consecutive Games.
  • In 2008, the British team won 41 medals (11 gold, 12 silver and 18 bronze) while hosts China won the most swimming medals (44) and USA won the most golds (17).


Planning a little TV or internet time watching the Paralympics? Then use our calendar to help you find the races you want and the GB swimmers to look out for. Simply click on their photo to access their profile and find out about their rivals and compare times.

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