Paralympic Swimming

The Paralympic Games originate from 1948 when a sports competition was organised for World War II veterans with a spinal cord injury in Stoke Mandeville, England. Four years later athletes from Holland joined the event and so the international Paralympic movement was born.

The first recognised Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960 and immediately followed the Olympics. Here, around 400 athletes from 23 countries competed in six different sports, including swimming. Today, the Games are an elite sports event for athletes from five different disability groups competing in 20 sports.

Swimming has been a part of the Games since its conception and is one of the largest sports at the Paralympics in terms of events and competitors. Swimmers compete in over 140 events ranging from 50m to 400m, plus 4×50m and 4×100m relays. This differs slightly from the Olympic Games where swimmers compete in events up to 800m for women and 1500m for men.


Great Britain are one of the strongest nations in Paralympic swimming finishing in the top eight of the medal table at each of the last seven Games.

Mike Kenny has won more gold medals in Paralympic swimming than any other Briton winning 16 across four Paralympics 1976-1988.

London 2012: Great Britain's Paralympic Swimming team won 39 medals in total at London's 2012 Paralympic Games. Of these 39 medals, 7 were gold and Ellie Simmonds built on her success in Beijing by claiming two golds for herself.

Rio 2016: ParalympicsGB's swimmers achieved the greatest number of medals of any sport at the Rio 2016 Games, 47, of the 147 won across all sports.

Of the 47 swimming medals, 16 were gold with Bethany Firth winning three and along with a silver medal in the 100m Breaststroke was ParalympicsGB's most decorated athlete of the entire Games.