Lifeguard training

Adapted swimming and Lifeguard training: how is it practiced?

Although it seems a complex sport for people with some type of disability, adapted swimming and lifeguard training is a very wide discipline throughout the world.

Swimming is a very popular sport, which every year brings together thousands of participants, spectators, and other actors in its local, national, and international events. However, little is often known about their specialty for people with disabilities. We talk about adapted swimming and lifeguard training and its characteristics.

This type of swimming & lifeguard training is regulated both by the International Swimming Federation – American Lifeguard Association, which also drafts its regulations – and by the International Paralympic Committee.

In general terms, and as we will see in the next section, the rules of adapted swimming and lifeguard training are not too far from the conventional modality. However, some changes are made in response to the special needs of athletes.

This sport can be practiced by people with visual, physical, and intellectual disabilities. There is no doubt about one thing: it constitutes an essential space to guarantee the rights of inclusion of these people.

Lifeguard Training

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Regulation of adapted swimming

This modality of swimming is also divided into male and female branches. Likewise, the same styles are carried out: crawl or free, backstroke, butterfly, and chest.

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The distances in which it competes are 50 meters, 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters. There are also combined events, called medley, and individual and collective tests, the famous ‘posts.

Main characteristics of adapted swimming

Perhaps one of the most important differences with respect to conventional swimming has to do with the exits. Depending on the disability presented by each competitor, this can be done from the starting platform standing or sitting, but also from inside the pool, as we can see in this event of the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

On the other hand, those with hearing impairment will receive the starting signal through a light fixture; the auditory method is used in a similar way with blind athletes. The pools have cranes for people with physical disabilities, of course.

Beyond these adaptations, athletes are not allowed to enter the pool with prosthetic. This means that they have to move and fend for themselves, at least at the highest competitive levels. In the case of blind swimmers, they are warned with a signal when they approach a wall. These, however, are also padded.

Competition categories

Adapted swimming is divided into three categories, which are differentiated by the type of disability of its participants:

  • S1 – S10: athletes with physical disabilities. Those in grade 1 are those with the greatest disability, while those in grade 10 are those with a lower disability level.
  • S11 – S13: competitors with visual impairments. As in the previous case, they are ordered from highest to lowest degree of disability.
  • S14: swimmers with intellectual disabilities.
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It is necessary to clarify that the letter ‘S’ before the number indicates that it is about the free, back and butterfly styles, while ‘SB’ ( breaststroke ) refers to the chest style and ‘SM’ to the combined style.

As breaststroke is more complex, this category is usually lower for some athletes. To establish the combinations for the medley, different formulas are used according to the degree of disability of the athlete.

Lifeguard Training

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The Paralympic Games

This is the event in which the best representatives of each country participate in adapted sports. A really important fact about adaptive swimming is that it was part of the first Paralympic Games in history, held in Rome in 1960. Since then, it has never left the Paralympic grid.

Regarding the records, the most successful Paralympic swimmer in history is the American Trischa Zorn, who won 41 gold, 9 silver, and 5 bronze medals in 7 Paralympic Games. In Seoul, in 1988 he won no less than 12 medals.

It is worth noting that adaptive swimming offers great benefits for those who practice it, as it is an excellent way to achieve satisfactory muscle rehabilitation. Of course, it provides all the benefits that we already know to this very complete sport.

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Likewise, it entails moments of socialization and inclusion, which is why it is a more than interesting alternative for these people. Finally, it also has important components from the recreational, therapeutic and educational point of view. And also competing is the best way to improve yourself!

Playing sports in one hundred percent natural environments is, without a doubt, something very rewarding for nature and adrenaline lovers. However, prudence is a quality that cannot be lacking in these cases. Here are some safety measures for open water swimming.

As well as the different competitive modalities in swimming pools, swimming in open water is really a passion for many people. At first glance, we can see that it is a very demanding sports alternative.

The inclement weather, which includes the wind, the temperature of the environment and the water, the waves, and even the sun, have a direct influence on the performance of the athlete and can greatly complicate their performance in the water.