Para swimming features athletes with physical, visual, and intellectual impairments. Events are the freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, individual medley, and relays. A FINA (the international governing body for swimming) standard eight-lane 50-metre pool is required for competition at the Paralympic Games. Events are conducted in heats of eight competitors per class. The fastest eight swimmers per class compete in the finals.
Depending on their impairment, swimmers can start in the water, from a dive start sitting on the starting platform, or from the typical standing start. Blind and visually impaired swimmers are required to wear blackened goggles and have an assistant (called a “tapper”) to help (tap) them as they approach the pool end wall to make turns or finish the race.
Canada has enjoyed enormous international success in Para swimming. Tim McIsaac won 28 Paralympic medals in his career while Michael Edgson has 20. The now-retired Stephanie Dixon has 19 and in Rio 2016 Canadian Para swimmers brought home eight medals, including Benoit Huot's 20th Paralympic medal.