The Swimming Classification System
Classification is used to place athletes of similar ability or function into groups for the purpose of competition. Classification exists in other areas of sport such as weight classes in boxing and handicaps in golf. Classification in sport for people with disability considers an athlete’s medical condition and physical, sensory and cognitive attributes to group them into classes. Classification is designed to ensure a fair environment for elite competition. In Australia classification is used to ensure fair and meaningful competition at all levels.
Download the Classification System Overview [pdf]
Classification is not a requirement for general participation in swimming and all swimmers are also encouraged to participate and compete in mainstream opportunities where appropriate.
The following information is a guide only. For full details refer to the Swimming Australia Classification Policy and Procedures Manual.
There are 16 classes in the swimming classification system which caters for a range of disabilities. Each class has minimum eligibility requirements and swimmers must undergo specific Athlete Evaluation or Eligibility process to obtain a classification. Swimmers receive a class for each stroke discipline, and a prefix indicates which stroke the class applies to;
- The prefix S to the class denotes the class for Freestyle, Backstroke & Butterfly
- The prefix SB to the class denotes the class for breaststroke
- The prefix SM to the class denotes the class for Individual Medley
- Classes 1-10 - Swimmers with physical impairment
Swimmers are assessed through physical testing and water observations. Muscle strength, movement co-ordination, joint range of movement and limb/trunk length contribute to the allocation of classes. Classes range from swimmers with most significant physical impairment (Class 1) to those with minimal impairment (Class 10).
Download the Physical Impairment Classification Guide [pdf]
Classes 11-13 - Swimmers with vision impairment
Ranges from Class 11 for swimmers who are blind to Class 13 for swimmers who are legally blind (i.e. acuity less than or equal to 6/60 or visual filed less than 20 degrees).
Download the Vision Impairment Classification Guide [pdf]
- Class 14 - Swimmers with intellectual impairment
Swimmers with an IQ score of 75 or less; with significant limitations in adaptive behavior expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills; acquired prior to 18 years of age.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: There are changes to the Eligibilty process for New and Provisional Class 14 swimmers. Click the links below for information.
- Memo regarding Class 14 eligibility (posted 02/07/2013)
- Memo regarding Class 14 eligibilty [Easy English version] (posted 02/07/2013)
Download the Intellectual Impairment Classification Guide [pdf] (under review)
- Class 15 - Swimmers with hearing impairment
Swimmers who have a recognized hearing impairment according to the following ICSD standards; deaf, defined as a hearing loss of at least 55dB in the better ear 3FAHL.
Download the Hearing Impairment Classification Guide [pdf]
Download and complete the Audiogram Form [pdf]
- Class 16 - Swimmers who have received a transplant
Any person having undergone invasive treatment of a non-cosmetic nature requiring organs and/or tissues (excluding blood) donated by another person.
Download the Transplant Classification Guide [pdf]
Download and complete the Transplant Eligibility Application Form [pdf]
Exceptions to the swimming rules
Some swimmers are entitled to receive exceptions to the swimming rules and other considerations based on their classification. The exceptions prevent classified swimmers from being disqualified during Multi Class (MC) competition. These exceptions are determined during the classification process and are identified by a system of codes known as the Swimming Codes of Exceptions.
Download the Swimming Codes of Exceptions [pdf]
To assist Technical Officials in competition Swimming Codes of Exceptions swing tags have been produced. Request one from your State Swimming Association.
National Sport Class Status
All Classes are allocated a Sport Class Status which indicates conditions of a swimmers classification. The status may affect the level of Multi Class competition a swimmer can compete in and if a swimmer’s classification needs to be reviewed. Status is allocated at the completion of the Athlete Evaluation Process. For more details see the relevant Classification Guide or the Classification Policy and Procedures.
National Classification Master List
The National Classification Master List is the official record of all Australian classified swimmers and is managed by Swimming Australia in agreement with classification system partners. Swimming Australia makes public certain classification information to assist athletes, coaches and meet organisers (e.g. swimmer name, state, date of birth, classes and status).
Contact your State Swimming Association for enquiries.