Partnership opens doors for swimmers

Australian swimmers with a disability in regional and remote communities will now have greater opportunities in the pool thanks to the growth of the Australian Paralympic Committee’s partnership with Swimming Australia.

The two organisations have expanded their nationwide classification program to give swimmers who were previously unable to participate in meaningful competition the chance to compete and follow their sporting dreams.

Recent improvements to the program will increase swimming participation levels for all athletes with a disability and provide swimmers who cannot attend a face to face national classification assessment with an indication of their classification. This means more athletes with a disability can get in the pool and compete as a multi-class swimmer.

According to Australian Swimming National Paralympic Head Coach Brendan Keogh, a national provisional classification process for functional classes was seen as a priority.

“Swimming Australia is working in partnership with the APC on developing the systems of classification for all Paralympic classes as part of the National Swimming Classification Strategy,” said Keogh.

“A provisional process will increase opportunities for swimmers in regional and remote locations and locations where full classification services are not yet available. We expect to see an increase in swimmers accessing competition in these areas, which in turn will boost the pool of potential champions taking part in swimming. We are motivated to continue working with the APC to develop classification services further to ensure we best prepare our future champions for London and beyond.”

APC Manager for Classification, Genevieve McMahon said that expanding opportunities will lead to greater Paralympic success.

“Through the work of both the APC and Swimming Australia, some level of classification is now available to all developing swimmers across every Australian state and territory, where it was previously only available in some parts,” said McMahon.

“This is a great step forward in improving the classification and sporting pathways for people with a disability, and it will mean greater access to classification services right across the country.”

APC Chief Executive Jason Hellwig said the work of both organisations in the area of classification is critical to further developing Paralympic sport.

“This program highlights the importance of the APC’s role in working with the National Federations to establish sport-specific classification systems and further enhances the strong working relationship the APC has with one of its biggest national federation partner, Swimming Australia,” Hellwig said.

Classification is the backbone of Paralympic sport and directs athletes with similar levels of impairments into groups or classes, so they can compete in fair and equal competitions against one another.

For more information on how to obtain a provisional classification, please visit the Athlete Classification Pathway page on the APC website www.paralympic.org.au or the Disability Inclusion page on the Swimming Australia website www.swimming.org.au

source: swimming australia