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Para swimming

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Para-Swimming Video

Para swimming is swimming for people with impairments resulting from a health condition (disability). Para athletes can have a physical, visual or intellectual impairment and compete in a variety of classification classes, depending on their functional ability to perform each stroke. Para swimming competitions include freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and medley events.

Eight Para athletes have been selected to represent New Zealand at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, including:

Read about the Para swimming team selection here and here!


As with the Olympic swimming events, the Para swimming events cover the four different strokes, the medley and relays, but with a range of functional classes for each event (an outline of the classes is provided under ‘Classification detail’ below):

  • Freestyle – 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m
  • Backstroke – 50m, 100m
  • Breaststroke – 50m, 100m
  • Butterfly – 50m, 100m
  • Medley – 150m, 200m
  • Relay – 4x50m, 4x100m (freestyle and medley).

Medal events: 149 in total, comprised of 82 men’s events, 66 women’s events and one mixed
When: Olympic Aquatics Stadium, Barra Olympic Park.
Where: Thursday 8 September to Saturday 17 September 2016.
More info: www.rio2016.com/en/paralympics/swimming

Rio 2016 Para-Swimming

Sophie Pascoe has continued her winning form recently with three gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in July, following on from her success at London 2012 Paralympics with three gold and three silver medals. Sophie’s key events at the Rio 2016 will be the Women’s 200 Individual Medley SM10 and 100m Butterfly S10. Mary Fisher is another winning kiwi on the international stage, with success at the London 2012 Paralympics (one gold, two silver and one bronze) backed up by three gold and two silver medals at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships. Mary will be looking to defend her 200m Individual Medley title at Rio 2016 and potentially add other titles to her collection.

The Kiwi Stars of Para-Swimming

(since the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games)

GOLD – 24 medals 

  • Men's 400m Freestyle S7 (Sydney 2000) – Dean Booth
  • Men's 150m Individual Medley SM4 (Beijing 2008) – Cameron Leslie
  • Women's 100m Backstroke S10 (Beijing 2008) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Women's 100m Breaststroke SB9 (Beijing 2008) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Women's 200m Individual Medley SM10 (Beijing 2008) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Women's 200m Individual Medley SM11 (London 2012) – Mary Fisher
  • Men's 150m Individual Medley SM4 (London 2012) – Cameron Leslie
  • Women's 100m Butterfly S10 (London 2012) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Women's 100m Freestyle S10 (London 2012) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Women's 200m Individual Medley SM10 (London 2012) – Sophie Pasco

SILVER – 18 medals 

  • Women's 200m Medley SM8 (Sydney 2000) – Gillian Pollock
  • Men's 100m Backstroke S9 (Sydney 2000) – Sean Tretheway
  • Women's 100m Butterfly S10 (Beijing 2008) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Men's 100m Breaststroke SB13 (Beijing 2008) – Daniel Sharp
  • Women's 100m Backstroke S11 (London 2012) – Mary Fisher
  • Women's 100m Freestyle S11 (London 2012) – Mary Fisher
  • Women's 100m Backstroke S10 (London 2012) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Women's 100m Breaststroke SB9 (London 2012) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Women's 50m Freestyle S10 (London 2012) – Sophie Pascoe
  • Men's 100m Breaststroke SB13 (London 2012) – Daniel Sharp

BRONZE – 14 medals 

  • Men's 100m Freestyle S7 (Sydney, 2000) – Dean Booth
  • Men's 100m Breaststroke SB13 (Athens 2004) - Daniel Sharp
New Zealand Results in Para-Swimming
1960 Swimming was introduced as one of the eight sports held at the first international Paralympic Games in Rome. A maximum of three Para athletes competed in each event and competition was limited to athletes with spinal cord injuries.
1980 Para athletes with cerebral palsy compete for the first time at the Arnhem Paralympics in the Netherlands.
1988 The Seoul Paralympics Games take place in the same city as the Olympics for the first time since 1960.
2008 New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe, at age 15, competes at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics and comes home with three gold medals, a world record and one silver medal.
2012 At the London 2012 Games, Sophie Pascoe wins three golds in the SM10 200m, S10 100m Butterfly and 100m Freestyle, and Mary Fisher wins four medals including gold in the SM11 200m Individual Medley.
2016 The Rio 2016 Paralympics will host around 4,350 athletes from more than 160 countries to compete in 526 medal events in 22 different sports.
Para-Swimming Timeline

Para swimming caters for three impairment groups – physical, visual and intellectual. The sport class names in swimming consist of a prefix S, SM or SB and a number. The prefixes stand for the event and the number indicates the sport class the athlete competes in during the respective event.
The prefixes stand for: S: Freestyle, Butterfly and Backstroke events; SM: Individual Medley; SB: Breaststroke. For more details, please download the following information sheet.

In Para sport classification provides the structure for fair and equitable competition to ensure that winning is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus – the same factors that account for success in sport for able-bodied athletes. The Para sport classification assessment process identifies the eligibility of each Para athlete’s impairment, and groups them into a sport class according to the degree of activity limitation resulting from their impairment. Classification is sport-specific as an eligible impairment affects a Para athlete’s ability to perform in different sports to a different extent. Each Para sport has a different classification system. 


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