Para Swimming

Swimming Waikato Programmes

Para-Swimming Pathway

Waikato has a proud history of para-swimming, with a number of high profile athletes competing at many of the major international events including the Paralympics.

It is our aim to ensure we can continue that success by way of our Regional Para-Swimming Pathway which, although very much in its infancy, has great potential to locate and support the next wave of swimming talent.

We will work closely with all regional and national para-swimming organisations to ensure we are offering a collaborative support network and that we are offering the best support possible for our para-athletes.  

 For more information please contact [email protected] 

Para-Swimming Classification

What is classification?
Classification provides a structure for fair and equitable competition within Para sports.
It seeks to group athletes with disabilities into sports classes according to how much their impairment affects their ability to carry out the fundamental activities in a specific sport.

Classification ensures the success of an athlete is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus.

When is classification conducted?
There are three types of classifications conducted at different stages of a Para swimmer’s athletic career – provisional, national and international.

Provisional Classification
Provisional classifications are temporary classifications and valid for a limited period.

This type of classification is the entry level where everyone starts off. Provisional classifications may be allocated by a classifier in a face-to-face consultation in conjunction with a medical certificate of diagnosis or by a classifier upon receipt of a medical diagnosis form and provisional classification form.

National Classification
A national classification is a sport specific classification carried out by a classification panel trained by the international federation.

This type of classification is recommended for Para swimmers competing regularly at club, regional or national level.At this level of classification there are exception codes issued which help the coach understand the swimmer’s function better and helps the officials have confidence in knowing what a Para swimmer is meant to do as per the rules of the sport.
This classification assessment is the same which is administered by the international federation as per their classification rules.

International Classification
To compete at international level, an athlete must be classified by an international classification panel and their decision overrules any previous classification decision taken by a national classification panel.
This type of classification is generally offered at international competitions in compliance with the international federation’s classification rules.

 For more information on classification, please contact Swimming New Zealand’s National Para Swimming Development Coordinator,

Cameron Leslie, on [email protected].

Competitive Swimming


Swimming New Zealand & Swimming Waikato having an inclusive intent, Para swimmers (swimmers with a classifiable impairment) therefore have the opportunity to compete in swim meets at various levels just like their clubmates.


The various levels available to all swimmers range from club, inter-club or regional racing to three national events which have a specific Para swimmer races – which means Para swimmers compete against each other, with medals decided based on the World Para Swimming points system (i.e. who is closest to the world record in their classification).

When you become a member of a swimming club you have the opportunity to join as either a club or competitive swimmer. As a club swimmer you will be able to participate in club and inter-club swim meets to give you a taste of what competitive swimming is like. The competitive swimmer membership is one for those who are interested in following a pathway toward competing at national and international events. 


Club and Inter-club

Once you are part of a club regular club nights are held where swimmers are given the opportunity to try racing in a supportive and friendly environment. Para swimmers can be involved in these club nights as well as inter-club meets, giving them an opportunity to give racing a go. At these types of meets Para swimmers will be racing their able-bodied peers and seeded according to their personal best time. There is no minimum level of classification needed for Para swimmers to take part in this level of competition.

Regional Meets

To compete in a regional meet it is recommended a Para swimmer has a provisional classification. Having a provisional classification done means officials will know the swimmer has an impairment and will officiate using discretion to avoid unnecessary disqualification. Para swimmers with be seeded amongst able-bodied swimmers according to their times. 

National Meets

Swimming New Zealand offers three events throughout the year where medals are presented specifically for Para swimmers. Along with these three events, if a Para swimmer has qualified to swim at the likes of Division II Championships or similar they may do so. Para swimmers may also compete at their respective zonal Junior Festival competitions if a provisional classification or higher is held.

The events below are national level events where multi-class racing and medals take place:

  • Junior Festivals (all zones) – there are no qualification times for this but Para swimmers need a minimum of a provisional classification.
  • New Zealand Secondary School Championships – there are no qualification times for this but Para swimmers need a minimum of a provisional classification.
  • Aon New Zealand Open Championships – this event has qualification times (long course times only) and Para swimmers will need a national or international classification to be eligible to compete.
  • New Zealand Short Course Championships – this event has qualification times and Para swimmers will need a national or international classification to be eligible to compete.


International Competition

If you seek to follow an international pathway there are several opportunities at a variety of competitions. If this is where you’d like to compete please contact Swimming New Zealand’s National Para Swimming Development Coordinator, Cameron Leslie, on [email protected]. Cameron will be able to advise and assist with choosing the right events to target and at the right time in your swimming journey.


Sport Waikato Office

Brian Perry Sports House
Wintec Rotokauri Campus
51 Akoranga Road, Hamilton 3200
PO Box 46, Hamilton 3240

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(+64) 27 776 6684

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