Paralympics Top 3: SwimmingBy Claudia Knight -
A Brief History
First introduced at the Toronto 1976 games, Swimming has gained much popularity due to its numerous events and classification groups. In terms of the number of events and numbers of competitors, swimming is one of the biggest sports at the Paralympics. In 1960, only 15 countries took part in Swimming events at the Paralympic games, a figure which has now grown to 161.
Both male and female swimmers are classified on their ability to perform each stroke, testing their skills in freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and medley events. The athletes can have a range of impairments including physical, visual or intellectual.
Depending on the individual, the rules of the International Swimming Federation are modified. Certain athletes can choose to remove the starting platform, have an in-water start or, if visually impaired, make use of signals. However, no prostheses or assistive devices are permitted in the pool.
As seen in Olympics, a standard eight-lane, 50 metre pool is required for competition at the Paralympics, with eight competitors per class swimming to gain a place in the finals.
When swimming, those who are blind are required to have an assistant to help them as they approach the swimming pool’s end wall. Known as ‘tappers’, these assistants let the swimmers know when to turn and also signify the end of the race.
One of Great Britain’s most well-known swimmers is Ellie Simmonds. At the age of just 12, Ellie grabbed the attention of the world after winning two Gold medals at the Beijing 2008 games. Determined to showcase her impeccable skills once again, Ellie competed in the London 2012 games, scooping yet another two Gold medals.
Joining the rest of Team GB this year is Oliver Hynd. After smashing his pre-existing world record for the 400 metre freestyle at Rio, Oliver is well on his way to show the world exactly what he can do.
Good luck to all competing!