Athletes can have physical, visual or intellectual impairment. There is a classification system and based on the category, Para swimmers can start from the starting platform or from the water, with or without assistance. Persons with visual impairment can also use an assistant called “tapper”, who indicates them the proximity to the wall to finish the race or to turn. Totally blind swimmers must wear blackened goggles at all events. Swimmers with physical impairment cannot wear any prosthesis or orthesis. They compete in the following styles: Butterfly; breaststroke; freestyle in 50, 100, 200 and 400 m; and individual medley in 150 m and 200 m. Relays are also included.
Para swimming is one of the eight sports that has been practiced since the first Paralympic Games held in Rome, Italy 1960, and it is one of the most popular sports. It has been part of the Parapan American Games since the 1999 edition, held in Mexico City.