2017 Para Swimming World Championships
- Saturday, December 2nd to Wednesday, December 7th
- Francisco Marquez Olympic Swimming Pool, Mexico City
- Meet info
- Results (when available)
Whether you’re a seasoned para swimming fan, or hoping to understand more about the sport, the 2017 Para Swimming World Championships (rescheduled from early October following the devastating earthquake in central Mexico) are a great chance to immerse yourself in the sport for 6 days straight.
That being said, let’s brush up on the basics of para swimming:
- Classification: Swimmers are put into one of a number of classes based on their impairment and ability level. Classes do not correlate directly to an impairment, rather, athletes periodically swim a classification race in which their ability-ability level is assessed. Classifications begin with either the letter ‘S’, ‘SB’, or ‘SM’, and have a number between 1 and14. Numbers 1-10 are for physical disability, with 1 being the highest level of impairment and 10 being the least. Classes 11-13 are for visual impairment, with 11 being completely blind and 13 being the highest level of sight while still being legally blind. 14 is for intellectual and physical disability. Freestyle and backstroke classifications begin with ‘S’, breaststroke with ‘SB’, and IM ‘SM’.
- Scoring: Para Swimming is scored to even the playing field. Athletes’ raw scores are multiplied by a coefficient that varies based on classification, so that objectively fastest swim does not always win each race.
- Events: Available events vary based on classification. For example, the freestyle distance event for classification S5 is the 200 free, but for S6 and up, it is the 400 free. Additionally, you’ll see the 150 IM, which omits butterfly.
Races to Watch Out For
There will be a ton of racing over the course of the championships, but check out these races in particular:
16-year-old Italian World Record holder Carlotta Gilli will face off against the United States’ three-time Paralympic Champion Becca Meyers. The two will swim in the S13 50m and 100m free, S11-13 400m free, SM11-13 200m IM, and S11-13 100m fly.
In the final of the women’s S7 50 free in Rio, McKenzie Coan narrowly took gold over Germany’s Denise Grahl. The two will face off once again in Mexico City.
Over the course of their international careers, South Koreans Wonsang Cho and Inkook Lee have faced off numerous times, with neither emerging as definitely more dominate. They’ll meet again in the S14 100 fly and 200 free this week.
Also of Note
Para swimming has been marked recently by controversy surrounding intentional misrepresentation (when an athlete intentionally tanks his or her classification race to make an impairment seem more severe than it actually is). You can read more about that here.
To get her thoughts on the matter, SwimSwam recently spoke with swimmer Trischa Zorn, the most decorated Paralympian of all time. You can read that interview here.
The IPC is working on a whistleblower policy to make it easier for athletes to come forward with evidence regarding intentional misrepresentation. Read about that here.