State Competition Models

Every state is different in its decision to offer specific events. The majority allow athletes to compete in any event offered. Vision loss could be included within any event as long as there is the ability to tap the athlete when they are close to the turn or finish end of the pool. The following are examples of some of the state high school associations offering adapted swimming for students with physical disabilities.

  • Illinois– allows an athlete with a disability to compete in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle and the 100 yard breaststroke
  • Michigan– schools need to accommodate individuals with disabilities to the extent that reasonable accommodations can be made that won’t alter the essential elements of the sport, increase the injury to the other participants or themselves and/or provide the student athlete with an unfair advantage
  • Missouri– if the athlete needs to use equipment or specific accommodations they must request this to the principal in advance

Athletes must:

  • Have a permanent disability
  • Have a record on file with the school
  • Have a verification of the disability
  • Demonstrate that they are water safe
Equal Access/Participation Model
  • Athletes compete at dual, group and state level, but do not deliver points to their team to win a meet
  • Athletes are invited to the state meet based on a timed final or field event performances
  • Athletes do not earn points, but they do receive medals and can set state records
Scoring Model
  • Athletes achieve swimming high school letters through scoring points
  • Athlete can score points for the team
  • Athlete can score points at state, receive medals and set state records
  • Points given based on the total number of participants
  • The one plus one—a single athlete with a disability would receive a point (or the number determined by the state) and a medal
  • Scoring would be based on the system used by the state in the traditional model if full heats exist
Advancement to the State Championship
  • Ranking list: top eight athletes are invited to the state meet
  • Eligible athletes apply to be part of the team; selection is based on past performance
  • Meet a qualifying standard during the course of the season. Standards could be based on using the athletes without a disability qualifying time compared to the percentage of the FINA World Rankings and then use the same percentage to compare to the IPC World Rankings to derive a Paralympic eligible qualifying time

Determination of Team Championships

  • A team trophy given to traditional teams and one for the combined scores of the disabled athletes and the traditional athletes from the same school
  • If the points scored by an athlete with a disability enables his/her team to tie or exceed the highest team point total of another team(s) then the team with an athlete with a disability will be declared a co-champion and the other team(s) without the athlete with a disability will be declared the outright champion. This applies to the runner-up position as well as the regular season, district, regional, and state meet
  • Traditional system of awarding team trophies based on the combination of traditional and athlete with a disability
Best Practices
  • Wear school uniform
  • Meet high school eligibility requirements (may be modification on age due to previous surgeries or illness)
  • Designate a set number of competitions that an athlete with a disability must compete in to be eligible to advance to state competitions


Guideline Table of Contents
Competition Rules



%d bloggers like this: