What is Para-swimming?

What is Para- Swimming?

Para-swimming is Swimming Canada’s fully integrated swimming program for person’s with a disability from grassroots to elite.  Para-swimming combines a broad range of disabilities into three categories:

Physical Impairments

  • Amputees/Dysmelia;
  • Cerebral palsy/acquired brain injury;
  • Spinal cord injury/polio; dwarfism
  • Others (Major joint restrictions, coordination restriction, limb paralysis/weakness)

Visual Impairments

  • Blind; visually impaired

Intellectual Impairments

  • Typically leads to the athletes having difficulties with regards to pattern recognition, sequencing, and memory, or having a slower reaction time, which impact on sport performance in general.


Para-swimming grew out of several different movements in the 1940’s and 1950’s. During this time, four international sports bodies, divided by means of medical disability eventually combined to form the modern day Paralympic movement. Swimming Canada became the first integrated National Sports Organization in 1993.

Today, a “sport-first” approach is being taken and international groups have moved towards representing specific sports, with consideration of a person\’s disability as a secondary factor. The world sport governing body for persons with a disability, including swimming, is the International Paralympic Committee and it operates with sport specific committees that oversee the development of sport for the disability groups.