IPC Swimming, the International Federation for para-swimming, has announced the start of a three year review into the sport’s physical and visual impairment classification systems which will get underway in 2016.
The review will help to strengthen compliance with the International Paralympic Committee’s revised Classification Code, which was approved by its General Assembly in November 2015.
It will expand on research already undertaken in previous years and will involve institutions and experts from around the world.
Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We have been building towards this review for quite some time and have identified a series of steps that need to be taken in order to strengthen the current classification system.
“The existing and new research projects will now be carried forward by a project management group featuring athletes, coaches, classifiers and researchers.
“I hope this review will improve the classification system for all involved in the sport, whilst addressing some of the questions some people have regarding the existing system.
“To make the review successful we also need the help of National Paralympic Committees and National Federations with the participation of athletes in research, financial contributions to the research projects and value in kind contributions, such as venues for data collection.
“We want to be open and transparent about the steps that we are taking all along the way, and will provide regular updates not just to the swimming community and the IPC Membership, but also to fans and the media as well.”
Details of the project management group are available. All future updates about the classification review will be published on a dedicated sub-section of the website to be launched in January 2016.
The review process will begin with finalising contracts with research institutions, the first meeting of the project management group and interviews with experts, athletes and coaches to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current system. All of this is expected to be completed by April 2016.
The first research area will focus on drag, other areas such as range of movement, propulsion and co-ordination within physical impairment classifications (S1-S10) will follow. These were identified as crucial elements of the classification system by experts in 2013.
For visual impairment (S11-S13), research is ongoing at the Free University of Amsterdam on the application of a sport-specific classification system. This has so far included observation and testing at the 2014 IPC Swimming European Championships, in Eindhoven, Netherlands; 2014 Asian Para-Games in Incheon, South Korea and 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain.
The results of these pieces of research and any changes they may have on the classification system will be announced as the projects conclude. No changes to the current classification system will be made before the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Further focus areas will be announced as they are determined by the project management group.