Including Swimmers With a
A Guide for Coaches
with a disability participate in USA Swimming programs for the same
reasons as “able-bodied” swimmers - they want to have fun, they enjoy
swimming, they want to be with friends and make new friends, they want to
“get in shape” and stay healthy, they want to improve their skills and
performances, and they enjoy competition. Swimmers with a disability are
attracted to USA Swimming programs because of the quality of coaching and
competition, and they are participating in greater numbers every year.
This article was written to help coaches respond to the challenge
of including swimmers with a disability. The content is based upon advice
from coaches who have experience working with swimmers who have a
disability. Emphasis is placed upon common-sense solutions that
accommodate individual differences and that rely upon typical coaching
Inclusion of swimmers with
a disability is a practice that is easy to justify, with obvious benefits
for all members of the swimming community. Inclusion is simply the right
thing to do!
for Swimmers with a Disability Athletes with disabilities who join USA
Swimming clubs benefit from better sport-specific coaching, more rigorous
training, more competition in practice, and higher expectations than they
are likely to receive in other settings. Other benefits include
socialization opportunities, greater independence in activities of daily
living and improved ability to cope with limitations imposed by
disabilities. The opportunity to be part of a team is especially important
to athletes whose educational experiences may have been routinely
individualized. The opportunity to demonstrate ability and educate others
can be a very satisfying experience for persons who are frequently judged
on the basis of what they cannot do.
The whole team benefits
from inclusion of swimmers with disabilities. New friendships and
experiences enrich the lives of every member of the team. In addition,
“able-bodied” swimmers learn to appreciate the concept of focusing on
ability rather than limitations by observing the similarities between
themselves and their teammates who have disabilities. These include common
motives for swimming, shared performance goals, and similar responses to
training regimens. Some coaches report that including athletes with
disabilities increases motivation and decreases whining by other swimmers
Benefits for the Coach
Coaches hone their skills
with respect to communicating with athletes, teaching sports techniques,
and modifying activities and equipment. Another benefit for coaches who
include athletes with disabilities is the possibility of being selected to
coach at camps and competitions for athletes with disabilities.
Benefits for the Club
In some cases, a sports
program might get more publicity because it includes athletes with
disabilities. Because the Americans with Disabilities Act puts pressure on
community agencies to make programs and facilities accessible to persons
with disabilities, clubs that practice inclusion frequently get more
facility time at a lower cost than programs that do not welcome athletes
with disabilities. Similarly, external funding such as sponsorship support
and small grants could be easier to obtain.
How To Include
The USA Swimming rulebook
defines disability as “a permanent physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits one or more life activities.” This definition
encompasses swimmers who are deaf; swimmers who are blind; swimmers with
cognitive disabilities such as mental retardation, severe learning
disabilities, or autism; and swimmers with physical disabilities such as
amputations, cerebral palsy, dwarfism, spinal injury, or other mobility
impairments. The advice provided in this article focuses on common-sense
adaptations to coaching methods that will help coaches accommodate
swimmers with any of these disabilities.
Get to Know the Swimmer
How should a coach respond
when a swimmer with a disability asks to join the club or moves up into a
new practice group? First, embrace the challenge. The most important
ingredients for successful inclusion are an open mind, common sense, and a
willingness to try. Inclusion may require extra effort by the coach,
especially during the swimmer’s first few weeks with the club, but the
rewards to the coach and swimmers outweigh the extra effort.
“All of us are
capable of learning. We developed our knowledge in coaching through
experience and we can develop skills in this area over time as well.”
Terry Maul, Coach, Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club
Second, get to know the
athlete. Focus on the individual, not the disability. Meet with the
swimmer to discuss his/her abilities and goals. Watch the athlete swim and
experiment with different stroke techniques.
“I liked the fact
that he never; from the day I walked in the pool, he never looked at me as
a person in a chair; he looked at me as a swimmer.”
Aimee Bruder, Paralympic swimmer
seek advice from experienced coaches about ways to accommodate the
athlete. Methods of coaching swimmers with a disability are usually not
covered extensively in swimming textbooks or coaching clinics, so
experienced coaches often are the best source of ideas. Although
how-to-coach information is somewhat limited, information about
disabilities and physical activity is readily available in most libraries
and the internet/world wide web.
Have the Same
Coaches should have the
same general expectations for swimmers with a disability as for their
teammates. All swimmers should be expected to comply with team rules and
policies, demonstrate a good work ethic, and exhibit good sportsmanship.
All swimmers should contribute to the team by supporting their teammates
and helping with team activities. Conversely, the swimmer with a
disability should enjoy the same opportunities as other swimmers, such as
promotion to a more advanced practice group, participation in meets, and
participation in team social events.
“I felt the best way
to work with the athlete was to treat them the same as the other
Peter Banks, Coach, Brandon Blue Wave
Adapt Start, Turn, and
Most coaches already have
the expertise, creativity, and common sense needed to adapt start, turn,
and stroke techniques for swimmers with a disability. The principles of
biomechanics are universal and apply to all swimmers. Resistance training
can help all swimmers to develop better muscular strength and endurance.
Training equipment such as kickboards, pull buoys, and fins help all
swimmers to isolate or emphasize certain movements. Disability-specific
suggestions are presented in the following paragraphs:
“The basic principles
of swimming - body position, balance, rhythm, flotation, resistance, and
speed - apply to everyone and everything in the water: Coaching a disabled
swimmer heightens a coach’s awareness of these fundamentals, which
benefits all of their swimmers.”
- Marie Cook, Coach,
Butte Tarpons Swim Team
Swimmers who are deaf. Swimmers who are deaf have the physical
ability to correctly perform strokes, turns, and starts. Coaches should
use frequent demonstrations and should ask the swimmer to repeat the
desired motions to insure understanding of correct techniques. Also,
remember to teach the athlete to use a strobe light as a starting signal.
Swimmers who are blind. Vision loss may affect swimming techniques
in several ways: (a) it is often more difficult to learn a physical skill
through verbal instruction than by demonstrations; (b) many blind swimmers
are unable to use vision to determine proper head position while swimming;
(c) some blind swimmers are reluctant to move their hands and arms away
from the torso; and (d) blind swimmers need ways to know when they are
approaching the end of the pool. Coaches should use rich verbal
descriptions during demonstrations and videotapes. Move the athlete’s
body through the desired movements when teaching stroke, start, or turn
techniques. Teach the swimmer to use stroke counts to estimate the length
of the pool. Experiment with different methods of tapping to determine the
best method of assisting the swimmer at meets. A tap on the leg or foot
can be used to notify the swimmer to start his/her leg of a relay swim. It
is important for tappers to hone their skills at practices in order to
mold a successful partnership.
Swimmers with cognitive disabilities. Swimmers with
disabilities such as mental retardation, severe learning disabilities, and
autism generally have the physical ability to perform strokes, turns, and
starts using correct technique. However, coaches will need to give extra
attention to principles of motor learning, especially when introducing new
skills. Use simple one-part or two-part directions, introduce new skills
gradually, and review instructions frequently
Swimmers with amputations. Arm or leg amputations might
contribute to problems with balance and body roll while swimming, and
might affect the swimmer’s ability to generate uninterrupted propulsion.
Therefore, coaches must be creative when applying principles of
biomechanics for these swimmers. Some examples of coaching solutions
include teaching swimmers with single-leg amputations to center their kick
behind the body rather than the same-side hip, or to use a four-beat kick
in backstroke, kicking twice to the right side then twice to the left
side. Swimmers with leg amputations might also require alternate positions
on the starting blocks. Swimmers with arm amputations must be careful to
maintain symmetry and level shoulder positions when swimming breaststroke
or butterfly. Use of equipment such as fins, hand paddles, and pull buoys
can help swimmers with amputations to develop better stroke technique, as
well as to keep up with other swimmers during practice sessions.
Swimmers with dwarfism. The most common form of dwarfism is
characterized by short arms and legs in relationship to the head and
torso. Short arm and leg length affects the swimmer’s ability to
generate propulsion, and overall short stature and body shape contribute
to greater drag when swimming. In addition, some dwarf swimmers have
limitations to range of motion, especially in the elbows, hips, and knees.
Distance per stroke and pulling under the center of gravity are important
elements of stroke technique for dwarf swimmers, but a high stroke rate in
comparison to their longer-limbed peers is necessary.
Swimmers with neurological conditions. Swimmers with
disabilities such as cerebral palsy, stroke, and head injury have
difficulty coordinating and controlling their movements. The more severe
the disability, the more likely that these swimmers will also experience
limitations in functional range of motion. The coach’s goal should be to
help the swimmer achieve greater motor control and greater flexibility.
Visualization is an effective practice method for many swimmers with
neurological disabilities, especially when used in combination with
demonstrations or videotapes. Instruction is often more effective when the
swimmer’s body is moved through the correct motions. Coaches should use
resistance training such as bands, stretch cords, or hand paddles to help
the swimmer develop a better feel for the desired movements. Repetition,
either through dryland work or swimming drills, will help the swimmer to
practice good technique. When leg function is severely limited, the coach
and swimmer should experiment to determine whether it is better to swim
without kicking, and when one side of the swimmer’s body is severely
affected, it might be preferable to swim with only one arm. Remember that
officials are instructed to judge body parts that are used while swimming.
Swimmers with spinal injuries and other mobility impairments. Typical
stroke technique problems for swimmers with little or no ability to kick
include difficulty with horizontal and lateral body positions, inadequate
shoulder roll, a truncated arm pull characterized by a short deep catch
and a short weak finish, a wide straight pulling pattern often with
dropped elbows, a wide arm recovery, and early breathing. Compromised arm
and trunk strength and mobility for swimmers with higher-level spinal
injuries may exacerbate these stroke technique problems. Regardless of the
severity of disability, these problems can be minimized with good
coaching. Pull-buoys or other leg floats help swimmers to complete longer
more intense practice sets. Practice sets that require swimmers to use
their legs, where possible, help to maintain residual leg function and may
eventually improve stroke technique. If the kick will be used in
competition, it must be legal. Although a variety of in-water, on-deck,
and on-the-block starting positions are allowable, most swimmers with
spinal injuries and leg dysfunction can learn to perform effective sitting
or standing dives.
considerable responsibility for making inclusion work. When they develop
positive relationships with swimmers who have a disability, they serve as
models for team- mates and other members of the swimming community.
Coaches are also responsible for resolving many of the logistical
challenges related to inclusion, such as finding lane space and pro-
viding disability accommodations. More importantly, coaches make a major
contribution to the athlete’s development and success in the sport by
adapting practice sets as needed and including the swimmer in ancillary
activities such as weight training and mental training.
All swimmers need personal attention and instruction from the coach
to develop their talents as athletes. Some coaches (and parents) are
concerned that inclusion of swimmers with a disability may take time and
attention away from other swimmers; however, this is not usually true. If
the swimmer with a disability is placed in an appropriate training group,
there is no need for a substantial shift in the coach’s attention to
that one swimmer. And all swimmers in the practice group are likely to
benefit when the coach provides disability accommodations such as frequent
demonstrations or more comprehensive verbal instructions.
“Giving time and
attention is what we are supposed to be doing with all children. Some
require more than others. It's our job to find a way to meet the need.”
Terry Maul, Coach, Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club
Finding lane space to
accommodate a swimmer with a disability may be a challenge, especially for
coaches of clubs with a large membership roster. Consider different
practice group placements for the swimmer with a disability - with
same-aged swimmers, same-speed swimmers, same-ability swimmers, or a
combination of placements. Your goal should be to identify the most
enabling environment for the swimmer. Instruct swimmers in workout
etiquette. Swimmers with a disability who are slower than their teammates
can become “speed bumps” in practice if they don’t learn how to
circle swim, pass and be passed, and clear the path at turns and finishes.
“Find a way. We make
lane space for the swimmer with an earache or broken arm who needs to kick
for 6 weeks, we can certainly find space for a swimmer with a permanent
P.J. Keller, Coach, Parkway Swim Club
Some swimmers with a
disability have the ability and speed to participate in practices without
accommodations, and some will be leaders in practice. However, in other
cases coaches will need to adapt practice sets to help the swimmer achieve
his/her goals and to maximize use of lane space.
Use the same principles of conditioning that you would use for any
swimmer. Consider the race duration rather than the distance when
designing practice sets. For example, if the time for swimmer’s best
event is four minutes (regardless of the distance), train the swimmer as
you would a middle distance swimmer.
Adapt sets as you would for swimmers who are injured. For example,
if the swimmer with a disability completes 50s in the time it takes
teammates to complete 100s, the swimmer should complete half of the
prescribed distances unless otherwise instructed.
Do not underestimate the swimmer with a disability. All swimmers
need challenging workouts to help develop skill, speed, and conditioning.
Self-esteem is enhanced when the swimmer masters a difficult challenge.
“Having to adapt the
workout, set, or technique to suit the swimmer gives you a new set of
challenges, but their ability to master the challenge is the reward."
Peter Banks. Coach. Brandon Blue Wave
Include the swimmer in
ancillary activities such as resistance training and mental training.
Adaptations to resistance training exercises may include different
equipment choices, using elastic bandages to help the swimmer grip the
apparatus, or helping the swimmer to maintain a stable position on the
apparatus. Use common-sense adaptations to mental training. For example,
allow deaf swimmers to keep their eyes open during relaxation training,
and position yourself so that they can read your lips or signed
instructions. Focus on all of the senses - vision, hearing, proprioception,
etc. - when conducting visualization sessions. Treat the swimmer with a
disability as you would any other swimmer.
Include in Meets
Most swimmers with a
disability enjoy competing in local USA Swimming meets because they can
test themselves against skilled “able-bodied” swimmers and they can
participate with their friends and teammates. Their coaches typically
insist upon participation in meets to help gauge the effectiveness of
practices in improving skill, speed, and conditioning and because of the
contributions the swimmer can make to the team effort. Here are some ways
that the coach can help to make meets a successful and fun experience for
swimmers with a disability.
Help the swimmer to set reasonable but challenging performance
goals. Advise the swimmer that she/he will be competing against
“able-bodied” swimmers, and that there are no special events or
classifications for swimmers with a disability in LSC meets. Encourage the
swimmer to focus on personal-best performances, especially if she/he is
likely to be slower than other swimmers in the meet.
Expect the swimmer to demonstrate as much personal independence as
possible. Some swimmers need help from personal assistants (usually
friends or family members) who provide disability-specific help to the
swimmer such as interpreting for swimmers who are deaf, “tapping” for
swimmers who are blind, and helping with transfers for wheelchair users.
Because independence contributes to the swimmer’s self-esteem and
because the use of personal assistants is restricted at major national and
international meets, coaches should encourage swimmers to gradually reduce
reliance on personal assistants as they become older and more skilled.
[Personal assistants are not required to be members of USA Swimming.]
Know the LSC policy on inclusion of swimmers with a disability. For
example, are time standards waived for regular season meets? May the
swimmer compete at a shorter distance within a longer event, such as
completing a 100 while other swimmers in the event complete a 200? May the
swimmer compete with similar-speed swimmers from a younger age group? May
the swimmer request to participate in time trials? What is the LSC policy
about inclusion in championship meets? Notify the meet director and/or
meet referee if such modifications to administrative procedures (see
Article 202.2.13 of the rulebook) are essential to the swimmer’s
Request disability accommodations (described later in this article)
at the time meet entries are submitted. The meet host will be more
prepared to address the swimmer’s needs if given advance notice.
Remind the referee prior to each session if the swimmer needs
accommodations that affect officiating such as special placement of a
strobe light, use of tappers, or an in-water or sitting start. This will
help officials to provide appropriate accommodations without focusing
undue attention on the swimmer.
Expect your swimmer to comply with USA Swimming rules and expect
officials to apply those rules fairly without “coddling” the swimmer.
Understand that Article 105 of the rulebook empowers the meet referee and
deck officials to consider the swimmer’s disability when applying the
Obtain proof-of-time to support applications for American Records
for Swimmers with a Disability and to prove qualifying time standards for
the USA Swimming Disability Championships and other major meets.
Advocate for the swimmer. Encourage meet directors to accept the
swimmer’s entries and to implement the LSC inclusion policy. Ask for
necessary disability accommodations. Remind the meet referee and deck
officials about the provisions of Article 105 if needed. Remember that
attitudes are easier to change when you set a positive example and when
you educate rather than confront.
In addition to
“regular” USA Swimming meets, swimmers with a disability have
opportunities to compete in disability-specific meets. At these meets,
swimmers are typically classified according to ability/disability prior to
the meet, with separate events conducted for swimmers in the various
classifications. Swimmers with physical disabilities are placed into one
of ten classifications based upon functional swimming abilities. Swimmers
who are blind fall into one of three classifications according to the
extent of vision loss. There is one classification designated for swimmers
with cognitive disabilities and one classification for swimmers who are
At first, encouraging a swimmer to compete in disability-specific
competitions may seem contradictory to the philosophy of inclusion.
However, success in disability-specific meets often motivates swimmers
with a disability to persist in the sport and helps them to gain the
confidence needed to compete against “able-bodied” swimmers in
“regular” meets. Other advantages include additional opportunities for
awards and recognition, as well as the chance to qualify for international
meets include the USA Swimming Disability Championships, the Paralympic
Games, and the Deaf World Games.
The USA Swimming Disability Championships are conducted annually in
a 50-meter facility during the summer months. Swimmers with hearing,
vision, cognitive, and physical disabilities are eligible to compete. Meet
information and time standards are available from USA Swimming
The Paralympic Games are the epitome of competition for swimmers
with physical, vision, or cognitive disabilities. The Paralympic Games are
held once every four years in the same years as Olympic Games, usually in
the same facilities. Swimmers qualify for the USA team through their
performances at the USA Paralympic Trials. Consult the International
Paralympic Committee web site (www.paralympic.org) for more
The Deaf World Games are the highest level of competition for
swimmers who are deaf. The Deaf World Games are held once every four years
in the year following the Olympic Games. Swimmers qualify for the USA team
through their performances at designated competitions. Consult the Comite
Internationale des Sports des Sourds web site (www.ciss.org) for
Coaches can facilitate a swimmer’s participation in
disability-specific meets by learning about eligibility requirements and
qualifying time standards, helping the swimmer to obtain proof-of-time to
support meet entries, and requesting time trials at local meets when
needed to provide opportunities to qualify for big meets, especially in
events such as the 50 y/m stroke events and the 150 y/m IM that may not be
offered for the swimmer’s age group. In addition, coaches can help
swimmers to request LSC travel funds to support participation in the USA
Swimming Disability Championships.
includes swimmers with disabilities in their LSC travel fund allocation
and recognizes them at their annual awards banquet. This support
encourages swimmers to compete in local meets and showcases their
abilities to the swimming community. “
Pamela Redding, Coach, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Wave Swim Team
Most accommodations needed
by swimmers with a disability are common-sense adaptations to coaching
methods or practice facilities that involve little or no cost to the club.
In some cases, the swimmer with a disability simply needs your permission
to provide his/her own\accommodations, such as a parent or friend to help
with personal care in the locker room. The following guidelines should be
useful to coaches; however, remember that accommodations should be
tailored to the individual’s unique needs.
Swimmers who are deaf. Speak slowly and face the swimmer
when giving instructions to facilitate lip-reading. Use a chalkboard or
white board to communicate practice sets. Learn sign language, at least
enough to communicate typical instructions, corrections, praise, and
greetings. Use handouts or e-mail to communicate information such as
practice times, meet schedules, or team policies. At swimming meets, ask
the referee to place the strobe light where it can be seen by the swimmer
and to move the strobe light or use an auxiliary strobe light for
backstroke events or a start at the opposite end of the pool. Be sure that
someone notifies the swimmer about important announcements.
“Caitlin is deaf, but
she can beat most of my swimmers in any practice. The only limitation she
has is that I need to write the workout on a dry erase board. The flip
side of that is that all of my hearing swimmers no longer need me to
repeat the set 10 times, they can just read like Caitlin does!”
P.J. Keller, Coach, Parkway Swim Club
Swimmers who are blind. Conduct a tour for the swimmer to
orient him/her to the practice facility. Use rich verbal descriptions and
“hands-on” demonstrations to communicate instructions and stroke
techniques. Teach the swimmer how to use training equipment safely and
effectively. Develop a reliable method of warning the swimmer of impending
turns or finishes if she/he is unable to see the end of the pool
-possibilities include tappers (helpers who tap the swimmer’s body with
a soft-tipped pole), a system that drips water on the swimmer as she/he
passes under the backstroke flags (possibly a sprinkler hose attached to
the flags), or an underwater sound source. Keep the pool deck and other
traffic areas as free from obstacles as possible. Service dogs help blind
swimmers to be more independent, and should be permitted on the pool deck.
At swimming meets, inform the referee and meet director if the swimmer
needs help locating and stepping onto the starting block, if the swimmer
needs tappers, or if the swimmer needs a service dog.
Swimmers with cognitive disabilities. Ability to understand
instructions will vary considerably across swimmers. Some need simple
vocabulary. Some benefit most from one-part or two-part directions. Some
need demonstrations coupled with verbal instructions. And many swimmers
with cognitive disabilities learn better when instructions are reviewed
frequently. At meets, a buddy can help by facilitating communication and
by reminding the swimmer about meet routines and procedures.
Swimmers with physical disabilities. Keep the pool deck and
other traffic areas as free from obstacles as possible to accommodate
swimmers who use mobility equipment such as wheel- chairs, crutches, or
walkers. Heavy doors should be propped open or removed. Use common-sense
accommodations such as mats at pool- edge to facilitate safe wheelchair
transfers, towels on starting blocks to prevent abrasions, and step stools
in locker rooms for dwarf athletes (and younger age-group swimmers) to
reach shower controls and other appliances. Most swimmers with physical
disabilities enter and exit the water independently; however, some
athletes may need help from a “lifter.” Finally, it is polite to sit
or kneel when speaking to a wheelchair user or someone of short stature so
that the swimmer doesn’t need to look up to see you.
Many coaches fear that
safety is a bigger concern for swimmers with a disability than for other
swimmers; however, this is rarely the case. With a few common-sense
precautions, most safety risks can be minimized or eliminated.
“Safety is enhanced
when people are “on their toes” or aware. Having a special needs
swimmer in the water heightens the coach’s awareness and everyone
Mick, Sue & Kent Nelson, Coaches, Turtles USA Swim Club
Emergency action plan. Consider the adequacy of emergency
signals for swimmers who have disabilities. Visual signals are needed by
persons who are deaf, and auditory signals are needed by persons who are
blind. Develop an evacuation plan that specifies assistance for swimmers
who are blind or those who have cognitive or physical disabilities.
Remember that elevators may be inoperable in an emergency.
Slippery pool deck. A slippery deck is especially hazardous
for swimmers who use mobility equipment such as crutches, canes, and
walkers. Many slips and falls can be prevented by keeping the pool deck as
clean and dry as possible.
Cluttered pool deck. A cluttered pool deck impairs mobility
for swimmers who are blind and for those who use wheelchairs or other
mobility equipment. Keep traffic areas clear of obstacles to prevent
accidents. Personal equipment such as wheelchairs, prostheses, or other
mobility equipment should be moved to a safe location during practice and
returned to the swimmer when she/he exits the pool.
Sharp lane lines. Sharp-edged lane lines may be an
unavoidable problem for some swimmers who are blind, causing cuts,
scrapes, and bruises; however, this problem can be minimized during
practice by wearing gloves or taping the hands and fingers.
Health concerns. Some swimmers have health conditions such
as seizures, lack of sensitivity to touch or pain, brittle bones, lower
maximum heart rate, temperature regulation problems, or latex allergies
that place them at increased risk for accidents or injuries during
swimming practices. A meeting should be held to discuss the demands of the
sport, safety risks, and methods of minimizing the risks so that the
swimmer and his/her parents can make an informed decision about joining
the team and so that the coach is aware of common-sense accommodations
that promote safety.
“My head age group
coach and I sat down with Lauren s parents and Lauren to talk to them
about any special needs Lauren might have [because of a brittle bone
condition]. We were especially concerned about her colliding with others
and injuries that might occur. Lauren and her family were very aware of
any potential problems, but felt the benefits of being in a competitive
swimming program far outweighed the negatives.”
Jim Wood, Coach, Berkeley Aquatic Club
“Some swimmers have
limbs or areas that are not sensitive to touch or pain. Make sure that
exercises do not injure them. An example would be ‘up and outs’ at the
end of the pool - they may not feel their toes dragging on the wall.“
Donald Watkinds, Coach, Peninsula Aquatic Club of San Diego
The most important
guidelines for including swimmers with a disability are captured in the
following advice from coaches who have experience with inclusion.
“Communicate with the
swimmer: Don’t be afraid to ask them what they can and cannot do. “
Julie O’Neill, Coach, Rocket Aquatics
“It is MUCH more
important that a coach understands the biomechanics of the sport than that
they understand everything about a swimmer’s disability. Coaches can
easily ask swimmers about their capabilities and make adaptations to the
‘ideal’ stroke model based upon the individual swimmer's options.”
Pamela Redding, Coach, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Wave Swim Team
“Because you had one
swimmer doesn’t mean the next swimmer with the same disability will
react the same way to your training. As with any swimmer, you must find
the methods that work the best with the individual athlete. “
Donald Watkinds, Coach, Peninsula Aquatic Club of San Diego
swimmers get treated exactly the same as any other swimmer in our program.
Same expectations, same workouts, same rules.”
Jim Wood, Coach, Berkeley Aquatic Club
“Only adapt what must
be adapted - our goal is inclusion.”
Mick & Sue & Kent Nelson, Coaches, Turtles USA Swim Club
Contact USA Swimming
sources of information include:
USA Swimming rulebook (especially Article 202.2.13 and Article 105).
LSCs with policies on inclusion in meets, e.g., Illinois Swimming, Lake
Erie Swimming, Louisiana Swimming, Michigan Swimming, Montana Swimming,
LSCs with travel fund policies that include swimmers with a disability,
e.g., Illinois Swimming, Middle Atlantic Swimming, Oregon Swimming,
Cranfield, A., Seley, D., & Strom, A. (1984). Esso Swim Canada program
for the physically disabled: Instructor manual. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian
Federation of Sp6rts Organizations for the Disabled. Distributed by Swim
Goodman, S. (1995). Coaching athletes with disabilities: General
principles. Belconnen, ACT: Australian Sports Commission.
Green, A. (1992). Coaching methods when working with swimmers with a
disability. Belconnen, ACT: Australian Sports Commission.
Lockette, K. F., & Keyes, A. M. (1994). Conditioning with physical
disabilities. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Miller, P. D. (Ed.). (1995). Fitness programming and physical disability.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
National Center on Physical Activity and Disability. Online at
This article was developed
by the Adapted Swimming Committee as a service to coaches. We wish to
thank the coaches and swimmers whose advice appears in this article.
This “Guide for Coaches” is part of a series of five
informational items on including swimmers with a disability. USA Swimming
will also be publishing guidelines for swimmers and parents, officials,
meet directors and safety directors, and local swimming committees.
The mission of the Adapted Swimming Committee is the full inclusion
of swimmers with a disability in USA Swimming programs.
|Copyright © 1998-1999 American Swimming Coaches Association.|