Although Blind Sports SA does not coordinate a swimming program, we do have members who have successfully represented our state and country.
We suggest person’s interested in swimming contact their local swimming club or Swimming SA for the most suitable program.
Swimming has been part of the Paralympic program since the first Games in Rome in 1960. During the Games in Sydney 2000, 352 men and 216 women from 62 countries participated and more than 200,000 spectators attended the Swimming events over nine days of competition. The levels of the athletes’ performances at the Paralympic Games have constantly improved over the years as a result of more intense and efficient training methods.
A FINA standard eight-lane 50m pool is required for competition at the Paralympic Games. Events are conducted as heats for eight competitors per class and with the fastest eight swimmers per class competing in the finals. There are various forms for swimmers to start their race; in the water, a dive start sitting on the starting platform or the typical standing start.
During a Swimming event, swimmers who are blind are required to have an assistant to help him/her as he or she approaches the swimming pool end wall, either to make a turn or for the finish of the race. This process is called tapping and performed by a “tapper”. These swimmers are also required to wear blackened goggles in all their events.
Swimming suits: The clothing for swimmers is a bathing suit. It is forbidden for athletes to use anything that may aid the swimmers speed, buoyancy, or endurance.
Other equipment: Swimming caps and protective eye-goggles are permitted. The goggles protect the swimmers’ eyes as well as improving their vision in the water.
Rules for competitive swimming are governed by the IBSA Swimming Rules, and are based on FINA rules and outline the adaptations for swimmers who are blind or visually impaired.
Swimmers compete in 3 sight classifications as defined by IBSA with B1 no sight at all, and B3 being up to 10 %. In B1 competition, swimmers must wear darkened goggles.
Allowances are made in the rules for B1 swimmers who may be too close to a lane line to execute technically correct arm strokes or touches in butterfly or breaststroke.
In the early 1980’s, a technique was developed of letting the swimmer who is blind know that the end of the pool is coming.Dedication, experimentation, and hard work by Wilf and Audrey Strom resulted in the technique known as tapping.
These tappers are essential in enabling the blind swimmer to reach their optimum performance level. They make it possible for the blind or visually impaired swimmer to test his/her limits and are an important part of both training and competition.
Swim tappers must synchronize their tap with the swimmer’s stroke movement and momentum – at exactly the right time to enable the swimmer who is blind to swim at top speed, without fear of crashing into the end of the pool, and to execute a racing turn without losing precious fractions of seconds in a race. A high level of trust is crucial.
Tappers are positioned at each end of the pool and use a rod with a firm foam tip to touch or tap the swimmer at the correct moment.
For more information go to: http://www.paralympic.org/release/Summer_Sports/Swimming/
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