Swimming Opportunities

Athletes Without Limits provides swimmers with intellectual impairments the opportunity to compete at National and International swim meets, including AWL Nationals, AWL Masters Swim Team, and USA National Teams competing at Inas International Events. We also determine eligibility for athletes seeking Paralympic Swimming opportunities in the sport class for Intellectual Impairment. 

The first step for interested athletes is to work with Athletes Without Limits to complete the US athlete application to determine eligibility for Inas and/or Paralympic competition. 

ATHLETES WITHOUT LIMITS & INAS SWIMMING

A. AWL-ORGANIZED TRIPS TO INAS EVENTS:

USA Teams Competing at INAS International Swimming Championships
Inas competitors are an elite group of athletes from around the world making great achievements in swimming. See the records and rankings on the Inas website to see just how fast world champion athletes with intellectual disability are. We are excited to see US swimmers among those rankings for the first time since the startup of Athletes Without Limits and look forward to more in years to come.

View our event calendar for upcoming Inas Swimming events for which Athletes Without Limit will organize US Team Selection and travel including Inas World Championships and Global Games. Inas offer competitions open to athletes in all three Inas eligibility groups — II1-Intellectual Impairment, II2-Additional Disability/Down Syndrome and II3 Autism (w/IQ of 76 or higher) — and offers a full program of individual swim events, strokes and distances.

Global Games Logo

Upcoming Inas Events:

  • INAS Global Games Brisbane 2019 Athletes Without Limits has selected our US National Team competing in Brisbane this October. The swimming World Championships at this event are open to athletes with International Level Eligibility in three Inas Sport Classes: II1 Intellectual Disability (T20/F20), II2 Down Syndrome and II3 Autism+.

Past Inas Events:

  • 2017 Inas Swimming World Championships (Mexico)
  • 2015 Inas Global Games Swimming World Championships (Ecuador)
  • 2014 Guayaquil Para Swimming Open (Ecuador)
  • 2011 Inas Global Games Swimming World Championships (Italy)
  • 2009 Inas Global Games Swimming World Championships (Czech Republic)

B. AWL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Stay tuned for information on upcoming AWL Swimming National Championships! Past Events include:

  • 2018 AWL Swimming Nationals at the Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic (Orlando)
  • 2017 AWL Swimming National Championships (Atlanta)

C. AWL TEAMS:

Athletes Without Limits US Masters Swim Team
Based out of Orlando Florida our USMS swim team is open to any swimmer with intellectual impairment who wishes to compete at Masters meets as part of the AWL Team for high performance athletes with intellectual and developmental disability. Athletes from other states can join the team and meet up at competitions together. Interested US athletes should contact us for more information.


INCLUSIVE MAINSTREAM SWIMMING 

High School, Club, USA Swimming & US Masters Swimming
Athletes Without Limits supports the identification and development of US swimmers with intellectual disability competing in mainstream sport (ex as part of their high school team and/or competitive swim clubs and teams) including USA Swimming and USA Masters Swimming. Please reach out for help getting started and/or to share your success!


PARALYMPIC SWIMMING

The first step is to work with Athletes Without Limits to complete the US athlete application to determine eligibility for Inas and/or Paralympic competition. 

History: Inas, the International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairment is a founding member of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Inas is one of four International Organisations of Sports for the Disabled recognized by the IPC as the representative of athletes with intellectual impairment (just as International Blind Sports Federation represents athletes with visual impairments). Following a decade where athletes with intellectual impairment were unable to compete in Paralympics, athletes were re-include into the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Swimming became one of three inclusive sports (along with Athletics & Table Tennis) with the goal of adding additional sports in time. Together Inas and the IPC set the eligiblity criteria for Inas & Paralympic competition. As the US member of Inas, Athletes Without Limits manages the initial eligibility review process for US Athletes looking to compete in both Inas and Paralympic competition.

U.S. Paralympics and World Para Swimming: Paralympic swimming is managed internationally by World Para Swimming and in the United States by U.S. Paralympics. Eligible swimmers with intellectual impairment have the opportunity to compete at US Paralympic meets and to try to earn a spot on Team USA to compete at the Paralympic Games and other World Para Swimming events.

“Eligibility” vs. “Classification” As you learn more about Inas & Paralympic opportunities it can help to better understand what we mean when we use the terms “eligibility” and “classification” in the context of disability sport.

  • Eligibility: The first step toward competing in AWL/Inas or Paralympic swimming is to compete Athletes Without Limits Athlete Eligibility Application. Athletes Without Limits reviews athlete applications, which ask for the athlete’s disability documentation, IQ & Adaptive assessments, etc. to determine which athletes are ELIGIBLE for Inas and Paralympic competition. We then submit endorsed applications to Inas for International confirmation — we will always refer to this application process as ELIGIBILITY.
  • Classification: Once AWL/Inas determine whether an athlete is eligible for Paralympics, he/she can then work with U.S. Paralympics to begin the Paralympic “Sports Classification” process. In Swimming, Sports Classification is intended for athletes who have met an emerging swim time and are ready for higher level competition. The steps involve  1) applying for a Paralympic Swim License and 2) Completing Classification Appointments, which take place at Paralympic Swim competitions. Athletes Without Limits can assist athletes with this process but again it is managed by U.S. Paralympics and is not required for developmental-level swimmers — we will always refer to this process as CLASSIFICATION.

Who’s Eligible? To compete as a Paralympic athlete with intellectual impairment athletes must meet the Inas II1 Eligibility Criteria for Intellectual Impairment —which are IQ of 75 or below, Significant Impairment in Adaptive Behavior and Onset by Age 18. While some athletes with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome or Autism can meet the II1 IQ and Adaptive requirements, there is not a separate Inas II2-Down Syndrome or II3-High Functioning Austin classes in Paralympics like there are at AWL & Inas Events.

  • Are athletes with Down Syndrome eligible for Paralympics? While Inas has a separate II2 Down Syndrome group, Paralympics only has one class for intellectual impairment.  Athletes with Down Syndrome who also meet the IQ and Adaptive Behavior criteria for the Inas II1 Intellectual Impairment may be eligible to compete as S14 swimmers at Paralympic events.
  • Are athletes with Autism eligible for Paralympics? Athletes with Autism whose IQ is 75 or below meet the Inas II1 Criteria for Intellectual Impairment and therefore are eligible for Paralympics. Athletes with Autism and an IQ of 76 or higher who meet the Inas II3 Criteria (sometimes referred to as High Functioning Autism) are not Paralympic-eligible, but may compete at Athletes Without Limits & Inas events mentioned above.

Paralympic Sport Class Numbers: Paralympic classes are different by sport. In swimming the class for athletes with intellectual impairment is “14.” The Prefix S to the class denotes the class for Freestyle, Backstroke and Butterfly (ex: S14); The Prefix SB to the class denotes the class for Breaststroke (e.g.” SB14); The Prefix SM to the class denotes the class for Individual Medley (e.g. SM14). Since athletes must meet the Inas II1 Eligiblity Requirements to compete in this Sport Class we often refer to it as Inas II1/S14 for short.

How to Get Started in Paralympic Swimming: Athletes must meet the INAS II1 eligibility criteria and appear on the AWL/Inas Master List of Eligible athlete to begin the Paralympic Classification process managed by U.S. Paralympics. So the first step toward step toward Paralympic classification is to apply for Inas Eligibility through Athletes Without Limits ($150 one time fee). Some US meets require National Level Eligibility, which means AWL has endorsed the athlete as eligible, while higher level events require International Level Eligibility, which means AWL has submitted the athletes endorsed application to Inas International for confirmation. For a yearly schedule of meets visit the U.S. Paralympic website. (Note that many AWL swimmers, including our US Masters Swim Team compete at both U.S. Paralympic and Inas events and can help new S/SB/SM-14 Swimmers competing at these events.)

What is a Paralympic Swim License?
Athletes with confirmed Inas International Level eligibility who have met an emerging Paralympic or Inas International qualifying time should apply to US Paralympics for an annual Paralympic Swimming License ($25) — Athletes Without Limits can assist with this process so contact us for guidance. A license is only required for athletes who qualify for high-level Paralympic events. It  allows Paralympic Team contenders to complete two International Paralympic classification “appointments” (which take place at events) so that they can go from “New” to “Review” to “Confirmed” status in time for U.S. Paralympic Team Trials.

What are the “Classification Appointments” offered at some Paralympic competitions? When you register for a Paralympic swim meet you’ll be asked if you need to make a “Classification Appointment.” Athletes with intellectual impairment never need to make a National Classification appointment (those are intended for athletes with physical impairments who need to see a doctor to get classified). Athletes with intellectual impairments complete the AWL/Inas eligibility application in lieu of a National Classification appointment.

What are the time standards for various levels of competition? Below are links to current time standards and other requirements for various swimming opportunities for athletes with intellectual impairments:

Which individual swim events are open to S/SB/SM-14 eligible athletes with Intellectual Impairment?  While a full program is usually offered at developmental and mid-level Paralympic-sanctioned competitions, events may vary so check the meet packet or with the meet directors for clarification. At the Paralympic Games there are a limited number of individual distance/stroke events open to swimmers with Intellectual Impairment: These currently include: (S14) 200 Free, (S14) 100 Back, (S14) 100 Fly, (SB14) 100 Breast, (SM14) 200 IM, and Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay (S14). For the most up-to-date list visit the Tokyo 2020 website.

Where is a schedule of Paralympic Swimming events? The U.S. Paralympic Swimming website provides as list of current and next year’s competitions. Meet packets with time standards and registration details are added as they become available. Athletes may self-register — US Paralympics will check with Athletes Without Limits to confirm athletes have completed our eligibility application and meet the Inas eligibility criteria.

The first step for interested athletes is to work with Athletes Without Limits to complete the US athlete application to determine eligibility for Inas and/or Paralympic competition. 

Swim Staff

Barry Holman

Barry Holman

Triathlon Coach
Oregon & Florida
Celeste Schertz

Celeste Sychterz

AWL National/Masters Swim Director & Board Member, Inas Swim Committee, Assistant Coach USA Paralympic Team
Florida
Fred Lamback

Fred Lamback

Past AWL Global Games US Swim Coach
Georgia
Coach Pat Thoreson

Pat Thoreson

Nautical Milers Athletes Without Limits Affiliate Swim Team
Georgia
Tracy Collett

Tracy Collett

Past AWL Global Games US Swim Coach
Georgia