In October 2017, World Para Swimming announced a new classification process aimed at reducing instances of intentional misrepresentation in the sport, with the new rules effective January 1st, 2018.
As a refresher: para-swimmers are classified into various categories to even the playing field within each race. Each swimmer is classified as having either a physical, visual, or intellectual impairment, and undergoes physical, technical in-sport, and technical in-competition assessments to reach a proper classification.
The revisions to the system affect mostly the technical assessment portion of the classification process, and all athletes must attend a re-assessment at the nearest opportunity. There are a few exceptions to that rule, which you can read about in the official revisions rulebook here.
With that in mind, swimmers at the Indianapolis World Para Swimming World Series stop last month began the re-classification process. Among those reclassified were US swimmers Michelle Konkoly and Julia Gaffney. Konkoly, 26, was been paralyzed from the waist-down after a 5-story fall in 2011, but since has had several surgeries and rehab, has regained much function in her legs, and can walk again. She was formerly an S9/SB8/SM9 swimmer, and has been moved to the S10/SB9/SM10 classes.
Konkoly swam as an S9 in Indianapolis and won the 50 and 100 free (29.36 and 1:03.03). She also swam in prelims for the 100 breast (1:50.52). She is the S9 world record holder in the 50 free (28.29) after taking gold in Rio in 2016. Her 50 and 100 free times from Indianapolis rank 5th and 4th in the S10 class this year, respectively. Given that she is now competing against swimmers with less severe impairments than she previously was, it bodes well for Konkoly that she remains in the top 5.
Gaffney, 17, has had her right leg amputated above the knee and her left leg amputated below the knee since birth. She was formerly and S8/SB6/SM8 swimmer, and is now S7/SB6/SM7. The move is significant because swimmers in her new class will have more severe impairments than in her former class, as is evident in her new world rankings. In Indianapolis, she competed in the 100 breast (1:49.62), 100 back (1:25.76), 200 IM (3:09.78), 50 fly (37.53), and 100 free (1:13.91). Her 100 back time is now the #1 S7 time in the world this year (up from the #5 S8 time), and all of her other times are in the top-5 worldwide in their respective classes.