Swimming with Class

Mar 24, 2015
Tagged with: Swimming with Class

This past week a controversy was raised in regards to Ian Silverman being classed out of Paralympic swimming by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Many questions have been raised about how this could happen? How terrible? What now? What must not be forgotten is the important role that classification plays in all Paralympic sports, especially swimming.

Sports plays a vital role in many athlete’s lives. More importantly, to the athlete with a disability, sport helps grow a person in all aspects in a positive manner. I can attest personally that my ability to live independently, work full time, graduate from college, travel the world, and socialize with family and friends has been a direct result of my upbringing and competing in sports. You see, I know for fact, that my self-confidence increased as my skill set in swimming improved. My work ethic was always there. My head is held higher, I am mentally strong, and I speak up for myself. My willingness to also try new adventures without fear of failure has emerged in my daily life. I am not perfect, but I see a marked difference from the shy youngster I once was. I am now more mature and help others make the same journey to adulthood and let them know that everything is and will always be ok.

I grew up in a family where sport was always present. I am grateful that I and my parents literally stumbled into the world of sports for athletes with a disability. I had a whole new wide world open up to me that was more competitive than the games in the yard or my local summer league swim team. At 16 years old, I could now compete against other athletes with disabilities with the same functionality and abilities as I in a specialized classification system for each sport offered. For sure, I felt free and it felt gratifying to truly race a clock, achieve personal goals, make National teams, and earn medals on the world stage. I can say I am one of the best athletes in the world multiple times over. Swimming has given me wings to fly!

The previous points bring me back to an important process in the Paralympic Movement: classification. The process of a land and water test by medical professional on a swimmer’s function and muscle movement allows numbers to be computed into a classification for the swimmer  to compete in. The goal is that all swimmers in that class have similar function levels. Classification reviews and challenges are possible and not uncommon. All competitors  have the possibility of a challenge, review, or a reclassification. It is all part of the process. I am thankful for the opportunity to compete on an even playing field and grateful that a classification system was developed. I learned a long time ago, that nothing in life on earth is perfect. The classification process is no exception. It can create highs and lows as an athlete competes, but it will never take away from all the life lessons and personal achievements. This also propels a person to great accomplishments beyond the field of play!

Although, events of this past weekend can have a profound effect on a team, what must always be remembered is the positive impact that swimming provides for everyone that can last a lifetime.


Author: Aimee Bruder

  • bobl07

    I think what is truly important is that classification gets it right more often than wrong.