Swimming was one of eight sports practiced at the first Paralympic Games in 1960 in Rome, Italy and is now one of the most popular.
Both male and female competitors, who are classified on their functional ability to perform each stroke, test their skills in freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and medley events.
Athletes can have a physical, visual or intellectual impairment. As a result the rules of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) are modified to include optional starting platforms and in-water starts for some athletes or the use of signals or “tappers” for those with visual impairments. No prostheses or assistive devices are permitted in the pool.
According to the 2011 IPC Annual Report the sport is now practiced in 80 countries and the number of athletes taking part has grown by 15 per cent in the last year.