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Aquatics is one of Special Olympics= original sports, and has been included in the Special Olympics World Games since 1968.

Because it is easy to learn, aquatics is appropriate for a wide range of age and ability levels. Walking and floatation events are offered for athletes of lower ability. As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are placed in divisions according to ability, age, and gender. An athlete may begin training at age 6 but cannot compete until age 8. An application/medical is required for eligibility to compete in Special Olympic events.

Athletes who participate in aquatics are able to improve their overall physical fitness through training and competition. In addition to improving their own skills, athletes also experience the benefits of being part of a team. This promotes communication, friendships and social interactions.

An athlete with Down syndrome cannot compete in the butterfly, individual medley events or dive starts without certification from physician regarding Atlanto axial Instability.

The Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) is the governing body for rules.

A certified Special Olympic Aquatics coach is required for an athlete to train and compete. The coach=s certification involves a General Orientation, a Sports-specific Training Clinic, and a 10 hour practicum with athlete/team. A head coach must be 18 years of age and assistant coach may be 15 years of age with parent consent.

Unified Sports relay teams consist of two athletes and two non-Special Olympic partners. Special Olympic Unified Sports integrates Special Olympic athletes with non-Special Olympic partners in training and competition to enhance social development and improve skills.


Aquatic Events

Individual Skills: (for athletes with lower ability levels)

15 mtr. Walk

15 mtr. Unassisted Swim

15 mtr. Floatation Race

10 mtr. Assisted Swim

25 mtr. Floatation Race


Individual Events

Freestyle - 25, 50, 100, 200 and 400 meter

Backstroke - 25, 50, and 100 meter

Breaststroke - 25, 50, and 100 meter

Butterfly - 25, 50 and 100 meter

Individual Medley - 100 meter

Relay Events and Unified Relays:

Freestyle Relay - 4 x 25 and 4 x 50 meter

Medley Relay - 4 x 25 and 4 x 50 meter

Diving Events:


For more Information

Special Olympics

Special Olympics Texas


This content was created by Dennis Wyatt,
Master's Student in Adapted Physical Education at TWUand Adapted Physical Educator, McKinney ISD
Summer, 2004

page last updated 10/9/2014 6:14 PM