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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics: This Is How The Para Swimming Categories Are Divided

The star discipline for swimming in the Paralympic Games and before Tokyo 2020, we explain how its categories are divided.

How much do you know about the swimming pool and its categories? Unlike the Olympic modality in this discipline, the Paralympic Games competitions are classified by the condition of the athletes and style.

The differences were not established because some are better than others, but thus the equality of conditions is maintained. For that reason, we explain how the categories are divided and even what the letters in each of them mean.

What are the categories of swimming?

There are 14 categories. The S14 is for people who have an intellectual deficit. The 11, 12, and 13 are blind or visually impaired and from 1 to 10 are amputations or spinal cord injuries due to congenital disability, as is my case, and it varies in degree. S10 is for those with the least disability, and S1, S2, and S3 are those with the greatest disability.

S1 to S10

In this case, the number 1 refers to those who suffer a greater degree of disability or illness and decrease as the count progresses. These range from the loss of one or more limbs and cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, dwarfism, or joint problems.

S11 to S13

In the case of the visually impaired, the differences in the swimming categories also depend on whether the loss is total or partial. The S11 is for those who lost their sight completely; however, they compete with a special type of mask to avoid advantages due to light perception.

S12 and S13 respond to severe, but not complete, loss.


As Vianney Trejo explained, this classification responds to an intellectual deficit.

Why does it sometimes switch to SB or SM?

There will be competitions in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in which the classification does not only have an S. If this letter appears alone, it means that the competition is in freestyle, butterfly, or backstroke.

The other categories of swimming also refer to the styles. If you see a competition with SB, it means that it will be chest style. And if it’s SM, it’s about the famous medley or mixed styles.

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