9th ASEAN Para Games

on September 18, 2017

The 9th ASEAN Paralympic Games are specific for the physically-challenged or athletes with disability. This is the 9th edition of the games hosted by Kuala Lumpur which also just hosted SEA Games 2017. Para Swimming is an adaptation of the sport for these disabled athletes.

In fact, Para Swimming is contested throughout the world under the auspices and purview of International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and tagged as "World Para" Swimming. Rules for the sport are adapted from the International Swimming Federation (FINA) rules. Swimmers compete individually in the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle and individual medley disciplines and there are also team relay races.

Significant differences between normal and Paralympic swimming include the starting position and adaptations allowed for visually impaired swimmers. Competitors may start a race by standing on a platform and diving into the pool; or by sitting on the platform and diving in; or in the water itself. Blind and visually impaired swimmers are aided by people known as "tappers" who stand at the end of the pool and use a pole to tap the swimmers when they approach the wall.

Classification is according to type and extent of disability. This allows swimmers to compete against each other with a similar level of function. Those with physical disabilities are allocated a category of between 1 and 10, with 1 being the most severe disability. Disabilities of Paralympic swimmers include single or multiple limb loss, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries (leading to paralysis or disability in limb coordination), dwarfism and disabilities which impair the use of joints.

Blind and visually impaired swimmers compete within separate categories being categories 11, 12 or 13. Category 11 is for totally blind swimmers. Category 13 has severe but not total visual impairment. However, Category 11 swimmers compete with blackened goggles to ensure competitors are on an even level. Category 11 swimmers are also required to use tappers while these are optional for category 12 and 13.

Swimmers with mental disabilities compete in category 14. Numbers are combined with a prefix depending on event type. An "S" prefix corresponds to freestyle, backstroke and butterfly while "SB" corresponds to breaststroke and "SM" to the medleys.

A swimmer with severe physical disabilities competing in backstroke may compete in an S3 event, while a blind swimmer in the medley would compete in class SM11. For relays, athletes from different classifications compete together, but the sum of their individual classifications must not exceed a given total.

Para Swimming is being held at the National Aquatic Centre, KL Sports City, Bukit Jalil. It runs from September 17 – 23, 2017

Last update: October 24, 2018