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Elite Athletes with a Disability (EAD)

Image of EAD swimmerThe XVII Commonwealth Games is the first wholly-inclusive multi-sport event. This means that, for the first time ever, medals won by Elite Athletes with a Disability will count towards the final medal tally.

The swimming programme contains four multi-disability events specifically for swimmers with a disability:

  • Women's 50m multi-disability freestyle

  • Men's 50m multi-disability freestyle

  • Women's 100m multi-disability freestyle

  • Men's 100m multi-disability freestyle

Classification is the grouping of swimmers with like abilities for the purpose of fair competition. Each swimmer is classified according to functional ability and not according to their disability.

The events are being run on a multi-disability format, which includes both physically disabled and visually impaired swimmers i.e. the International Paralympic Committee’s Swimming Classification S1 – S13.

Classes S1 – S10 are allocated to swimmers with a physical disability ranging from swimmers with a severe disability (S1) to those with a minimal disability (S10).

Classes S11 – S13 are allocated to swimmers with a visual impairment ranging from swimmers with no vision or may have light perception (S11) to those with some visual acuity (S13).

Athletes shall be classified within their disability using the FCS (Functional Classification System) which covers;

Spinal cord injured and polio
Cerebral palsy
Les autres; i.e. arthritis, loss of joint mobility etc

This system (devised in 1985) allows amputees, spinal cord injured and Polio, Cerebral Palsy and Les Autres (the others) to compete together.

Competitors are functionally tested on a bench and in the water and then receive a functional class. The system uses a numerical calculation of locomotor ability as a guideline expressed in figures showing the variation in propulsion effectiveness of swimmers with different locomotor abilities. There are 10 classes for freestyle, backstroke and butterfly (S1 – S10); nine classes for breaststroke (SB1 – SB9) and 10 classes for individual medley (SM1 – SM10).

Competition format for the Commonwealth Games

  • All classes will swim together.

  • There will be the appropriate number of heats (dependent upon entries) and a final for each event (no semi-finals or B finals).

  • Positions will be determined by each athlete’s time relative to the current world record for the appropriate classification of the swimmer. For example in the following race:

Swimmer A is classified S9. The world record for the S9 class is 58.62. Swimmer A finishes second with a race time of 72.68 seconds. This is subtracted from the world record, leaving Swimmer A with a result of –14.06.

Swimmer B is classified S7. The world record for the S7 class is 102.62. Swimmer B finishes third with a race time of 103.18 seconds. This is subtracted from the world record, leaving Swimmer B with a result of –0.56.

Swimmer C is classified S10. The world record for the S10 class is 54.30. Swimmer C finishes first with a race time of 58.02 seconds. This is subtracted from the world record, leaving Swimmer C with a result of –3.72.

The final medal positions for the race would then be:

Gold: Swimmer B
Silver: Swimmer C
Bronze: Swimmer A

This may mean that a swimmer touching first may not be the winner.

World records will be the time standardised to identify both the finalists and medal winners throughout the competition. This means that the same ‘time marker’ will be used in the heats and the final irrespective of whether the world record has been broken during the course of competition - ie Swimmer A sets a new world record during the heats but the time used is the world record set prior to competition beginning.


  • The format of the competition for each event is to be determined by number of entries i.e. heats, finals.

  • Heats to be seeded by entry times i.e. by direct comparison between an individual’s personal best time and the current world record time for each programmed event in the relevant disability classification.
  • Qualification for finals to work to the same principle that is by deducting the recorded time in the heat from the relevant world record - normally this would be a negative figure. A positive figure would indicate that a world record has been broken.

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