2020 Tokyo Paralympic Swimming Previews: 5 American Men to Watch

2020 Tokyo Summer Paralympic Games

While para-swimming is a female-dominated sport in America, there are a few American men in medal contention at the upcoming Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Explanation of Para Classification System

  • There are 14 classifications for Paralympic swimmers, typically denoted as “S” followed by a number.
  • “SB” designates an athletes classification for breaststroke events
  • “SM” is for individual medley events
  • Athletes with physical impairments are classified in S1-S10, SB1-SB9, and SM1-SM10 with numbers 1-10 ranging from more severe activity limitations to less severe limitations.
  • Athletes with visual impairments are classified in S/SB11-13.
  • Athletes with intellectual impairments are classified in S/SB14.

1. Robert Griswold – Griswold is the defending world champion in two of his Tokyo Paralympic events: the S8 100 back and SM8 200 IM.

The 24-year-old is set to make the Paralympic podium for the second time in the S8 100 back, an event he claimed bronze in at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He also won silver in the S8 400 free and S8 100 fly at the 2019 World Championships, putting him in medal contention in those events as well.

Events in Tokyo:

  • 400 free – S8
  • 100 back – S8
  • 100 fly – S8
  • 200 IM – SM8

2. Evan Austin – Two-time Paralympian Austin has come close to the podium multiple times on the Paralympic stage, but has yet to come home with a medal. In Rio, he placed 6th in the 4×100 free relay, 4×100 medley relay. In London, he finished in 6th place in SB7 100 breast and S7 4×100 free relay.

Austin is the defending world champion in the S7 50 fly and has a good chance of earning his first Paralympic medal in it. At the 2019 World Championships, he took 6th and 7th place, respectively, in his other Tokyo events: the 200 IM and 400 free.

Events in Tokyo:

  • 400 free – S7
  • 50 fly – S7
  • 200 IM – SM7

3. Rudy Garcia-Tolson –  Two-time gold medalist and 5-time medalist Garcia-Tolson is headed to his 5th Paralympic Games.

He has made the podium in the 200 IM SM7 for all 4 Paralympics that he has competed in ( he won silver in 2004, gold in 2008, and silver in 2012 and 2016). He also won bronze in the SB7 100 breast in 2008.

32-year-old Garcia-Tolson will swim both of those events in Tokyo (the 100 breast in the SB6 class this time) alongside the SM7 50 fly.

Events in Tokyo:

  • 100 breast – SB6
  • 50 fly – S7
  • 200 IM – SM7

4. Lawrence Sapp – 19-year-old Sapp had a successful meet at the 2019 World Championships, coming home with three medals. He won silver in S14 100 fly. In 2017, he won gold in the S14 100 back.

This will be Sapp’s Paralympic debut, the summer before entering his sophomore year at the University of Cincinnati. He has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2017.

Events in Tokyo

  • 100 back – S14
  • 100 fly – S14
  • 200 IM – SM14

5. David Abrahams – 20-year-old Abrahams will also be making his Paralympic debut in Tokyo. He is currently a junior at Harvard and while he has been swimming since childhood, he only began Para-swimming when he started his bachelor’s degree at Harvard. At that point, he had been legally blind for 7 years.

The 2019 All-American will swim the 100 breast, 100 fly, and 200 IM in the S13 class in Tokyo.

Events in Tokyo

  • 100 breast – SB13
  • 100 fly – S13
  • 200 IM – SM13

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1 year ago

Robert Griswold is an awesome athlete, man and sportsperson. Best wishes!!!!

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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