Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Swimming Events Reduced, Athlete Numbers Steady

Earlier this summer FINA celebrated the addition of three events to the Olympic swimming schedule for the 2020 Tokyo Games, finally bringing parity to the men’s and women’s line-ups, as well as tacking on the mixed 4 x 100 medley relay. While this increases the number of medal events in regular Olympic swimming from 46 to 49, finally surpassing athletics, the number of events for Paralympic swimming at the Tokyo Games will be smaller, despite the addition of two new mixed-gender events.

Though the details remain somewhat vague and we do not know which events have been eliminated, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced it will award medals to the top three finisher in 146 events in Paralympic swimming at the Tokyo Games–six events fewer than Rio 2016. Despite the reduction in events offered to Paralympic swimmers, the total number of athletes will remain steady at 620. It is fairly standard practice for events at the Paralympic Games to shift from year-to-year, depending on the level of competitiveness in different classes.

After reaching out to Tokyo 2020 for details, SwimSwam learned that the medal events will be broken down between 76 for men, 67 for women, and 3 mixed-gender events. Rio 2016 contested the mixed 4 x 50 meter freestyle relay (won by China), making only two of the mixed relays new additions for Paralympic swimming in 2020. The detailed swimming program will be announced later this year.

The three impairment groups Para swimming accommodates include physical, visual, and intellectual. There are 14 different sport classes for athletes competing in Para swimming, numbered 1-10 for physical, 11-13 for visual, and 14 for intellectual impairment. For physical and visual impairments, lower numbers indicate more severe limitations than higher numbers. Common prefixes for these classes and the events swum in each class include:

  • S: Freestyle, butterfly and backstroke events;
  • SB: Breaststroke;
  • SM: Individual Medley.

It appears as though some classes will lose events that others will retain, but which classes and which events are not certain. More details and specific event changes will be published later this year.

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A small note: there are 14 sport classes, 10 physical, 3 visual and 1 intellectual.

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About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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