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Swimming for persons with a visual impairment is a sport that has been practiced for years. Swimming offers many benefits since it can be enjoyed and practiced from the junior level well into the senior years. Swimming has been and continues to grow in popularity in Canada and worldwide. In the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics 70 swimmers participated since then this number has grown dramatically where at the London 2012 Paralympics 604 swimmers over 148 events.
Competitive Swimming follows the Fédération Internationale de Natation – International Swimming Federation (FINA) rules with some allowances for lack of vision. Visually impaired swimmers compete in three classes - B1, B2, or B3 as defined by the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA). B1 swimmer, being totally without sight, requires more considerations than B2 or B3 swimmers.
If you are interested in getting involved with swimming either competitively or recreational but don’t know how to go about doing it please contact us and we will help get you in the pool. If you are a swimming organization or a club that wants information on how to involve and train athletes who are blind or visually impaired contact us as well. We can help provide resources and expertise to make the athletes experience the best possible.
About Blind Swimming
Tapping is the most important assistance required. This is a method of informing the swimmer when he or she is reaching the end of the pool and must execute a turn or make a final touch. Sighted partners (tappers) are positioned at each end of the pool and using a rod with a firm butt; safe tip touches or "taps" the swimmer. Allowances are also made for B1 swimmer who may be too close to a lane line to execute technically correct arm strokes in butterfly or touches in butterfly or breastroke. A team coach directs the takeover for relays. While most of the fully sighted swimmers choose to wear swim goggles B1 swimmers are required to wear blacked out goggles. B2 and B3 swimmers can compete under FINA rules without further adaptations however due to some light conditions they do have the option of being tapped.