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More Opportunities For Swimmers With a Disability at National Events

New opportunities within New Zealand are on the horizon for Kiwi swimmers with impairment types which are not eligible for the Paralympic pathway.

New opportunities within New Zealand are on the horizon for Kiwi swimmers with impairment types which are not eligible for the Paralympic pathway.

Later this year, Swimming New Zealand will introduce additional classifications to national events to align with opportunities available internationally.

These updates provide opportunities for swimmers with a disability that don’t meet the requirements of the 14 classifications recognized at the Paralympics but are catered for at other swimming competitions around the world – such as Virtus events, Down Syndrome World Champs, and the Deaflympics.

From the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Short Course Swimming Championships from 8 – 12 August onwards, our open national events – excluding NAGS – will provide three new classifications. These are:

  • S15 = hearing impairment of at least 40dB (decibels) or greater in the better ear

  • S18 = Down Syndrome or intellectual impairment (S14) combined with a physical impairment

  • S19 = Autism diagnosis

The S18 and S19 classifications are internationally recognized in the Virtus pathway, known as II2 and II3 respectively, in addition to the S14 classification, also referred to as II1 at Virtus.

The S15 classification has an international pathway via the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.

The new classifications will be introduced into NAGS in a few years as the depth of field grows.

We are stoked to be supporting these swimmers with a disability to have the opportunity to race at our national events moving forward, as part of pathway to the respective international racing opportunities for their classification.

Swimming NZ’s Disability & Para Swimming Participation Manager, Cameron Leslie, is really excited by introducing these classifications to national events.

“This is just us doing what’s needed to begin our journey into supporting swimmers who have a pathway in this direction. We want to see all swimmers having opportunities to progress regardless of whether they are on Virtus, Deaflympics, Paralympic or Olympic pathways.”

“We want to make sure these athletes have the opportunity to grow through national events before they are thrust into the international stage, because that jump is challenging and we want to support swimmers to move into that space.”

Swimming NZ’s Head of Participation & Events, Dale Johnson, can’t wait to see these classifications introduced in August.

“We are committed to getting more people swimming more often and removing barriers to participation. We’re really proud of taking this step to create new opportunities in our sport and providing an environment where all swimmers are included.”


Multi-class heats will be swum together, however finals will be swum separate:

  • Multi-class S1 – S14

  • Multi-class S15 – S19

Medals will be distributed for the S15 – S19 final in relation to the pathway’s global body’s relevant records.

Some events are only open to those classifications which there is a global pathway for. If you are outside of those target classifications please email to see if there is space to race as an exhibition swimmer. These additional races will only take place if 3 or more swimmers are entered, aligning with the pathway’s global guidelines.

Top club points will be awarded from both finals and go toward the top multi-class club trophy announced after the final session at Short Course.

For more information, please read the event information booklet on the respective event webpage.

For any questions, please email Cameron Leslie -

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