Impact of the 2018 World Para Swimming classification revision on the race results in international Paralympic swimming events

  • Luca Puce
  • Lucio Marinelli
  • Ilaria PallecchiEmail author
  • Laura Mori
  • Carlo Trompetto
Main Article


Paralympic swimmers compete in classes, according to their swimming functional abilities. The classification protocol of physical and technical tests carried out to assign a class has undergone multiple revisions over time, the latest one in 2018. As a consequence, most of the athletes with physical impairment were required to attend an evaluation session to have their class re-assigned. We monitored the impact of this latest revision on the race results in two international Paralympic swimming events which took place prior to and just after the implementation of the classification revisions. Despite no dramatic changes being observed in the overall class performances and in the within-class performance variability, the race times of athletes that had their class changed were significantly more in trend with the mean times of the new classes than with those of the former classes. However, considering class increments/decrements separately, this was the case only for class increments. Further investigations could clarify this result and possibly provide indications for further improvements in the classification system.


Paralympic swimming classes Swimmers with physical disabilities Physical and technical assessment tests Athletes Sports Athletic performance 

Einfluss der Überarbeitung der Welt-Paraschwimm-Klassifikation von 2018 auf die Wettkampfergebnisse bei internationalen paralympischen Schwimmveranstaltungen


Paralympische Schwimmer treten in Startklassen gemäß ihren funktionellen Fähigkeiten beim Schwimmen an. Das Klassifikationsprotokoll der körperlichen und technischen Tests, die bei der Klassenzuweisung Anwendung finden, wurde im Laufe der Zeit vielfach überarbeitet, zuletzt 2018. In der Folge mussten die meisten Athleten mit körperlicher Beeinträchtigung an einer Evaluation teilnehmen, in der ihre Startklasse neu bestimmt wurde. Wir untersuchten den Einfluss der letzten Überarbeitung auf die Wettkampfergebnisse bei zwei internationalen paralympischen Schwimmveranstaltungen, die vor und unmittelbar nach Implementierung der revidierten Klassifikation stattfanden. Obwohl in den Gesamt-Startklassenleistungen und in der Leistungsvariabilität innerhalb von Klassen keine dramatischen Veränderungen zu beobachten waren, lagen die Wettkampfzeiten von Athleten mit Startklassenänderung signifikant stärker im Trend mit den Durchschnittszeiten der neuen Klassen als mit denen der früheren Klassen. Dies war jedoch nur für Klasseninkremente der Fall, wenn Klasseninkremente separat betrachtet wurden. Weiterführende Untersuchungen könnten eine bessere Deutung dieser Ergebnisse ermöglichen und eine Datenbasis für weitere Verbesserungen am Klassifikationssystem schaffen.


Paralympische Schwimmstartklassen Schwimmer mit körperlichen Beeinträchtigungen Tests zur körperlichen und technischen Beurteilung Sportler Sport Sportliche Leistung 



The authors are grateful to Luke Hogarth for fruitful discussion.

Compliance with ethical guidelines

Conflict of interest

L. Puce, L. Marinelli, I. Pallecchi, L. Mori and C. Trompetto declare that they have no competing interests.

For this article no studies with human participants or animals were performed by any of the authors. All studies performed were in accordance with the ethical standards indicated in each case.

Supplementary material

12662_2019_637_MOESM1_ESM.docx (49 kb)
The Electronic Supplementary Material contains Table S1 reporting the numbers of race times considered in Figs. 1 and 2 of the main text, Table S2 reporting tmean and ∆t values from Figs. 1 and 2 of the main text, Table S3 reporting the list of all the final events in Funchal and Dublin in which one or more athletes who had their class changed took part. More specifically, the columns in Table S3 report athlete code, event, Funchal and Dublin race times, tmean and ∆t of race times of the other athletes in Funchal and Dublin, parameters | ttmean | / ∆t in Funchal and Dublin. Results of the statistical analysis of these data are also mentioned in the online resource.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal and Child HealthUniversity of GenoaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.CNR-SPIN, Physics DepartmentUniversity of GenoaGenoaItaly

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