Swimming is one of the world’s most popular sports for athletes with an intellectual impairment.

Virtus provides a full programme of strokes and long course distances at world, regional Championships and the Virtus Global Games.

Swimming is also on the Paralympic programme, with a number of medal events on offer for athletes who compete in the S14 classification.

Swimmers interested in competing at a high level first need to contact their National Federation.


Swimming has been on the Virtus programme since the very first ‘World Games for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability’ were held in Harnosand, Sweden, in 1989. It has always been one of the most popular sports due to the accessibility of pools in most countries.

The sport was also one of the first to feature at a Paralympic Games. When the first events for athletes with an intellectual impairment were held at Sydney 2000, swimming was one of the sport alongside athletics and basketball.

World Championships have been held by Virtus since 2004 and variety of smaller competitions and regional Championships are held or sanctioned every year. Swimming is also one of the sports contested at the Virtus Global Games, held every four years.

In 2017 the World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, were the first to feature two new trial eligibility groups. These were for athletes with Down’s syndrome and autism.

Details of upcoming competitions can be found on the events page.

Rules and regulations

Virtus competitions are run according to the World Para Swimming rules and regulations.

For more information on the sport specification and rules click here (section 7.9)


All results from 1989 through to the present day are available at results, rankings and records pages.

Swimming Committee

  • Chair – Dave Harman (Ecuador)
  • Americas – Celeste Sychterz (USA)
  • Europe – Ivan Volosach (RUS)
  • Asia – Arthur Lee Yan Hong (SIN)
  • Africa – Ina Fowler (RSA)