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Competitive swimming

The competitive pathway for deaf swimmers is different from hearing swimmers but can include opportunities to compete in mainstream, disability and deaf-specific competitions.

Some deaf children may prefer to participate in mainstream swimming as there are opportunities to swim in a wide range of high level galas, against the very best swimmers. Others may prefer to participate in deaf swimming as this could be more socially and culturally appealing.

Take a look at GB Deaf Swimming to learn more about competitive deaf swimming.

Tips for swimming coaches

  • Don’t cover your mouth with your hand, paper, pen or whistle. Don’t chew gum or eat.
  • Demonstrate technique corrections, rather than relying on verbal explanations.
  • Use visual aids such as whiteboards.
  • Present one form of visual information at a time.
  • Write down key words, swimming jargon and new vocabulary.
  • Use video analysis for technique correction.
  • Practice touch starts and lighting starts in training.
  • Some deaf swimmers can hear the start signal – don’t assume.
  • Be aware of meets such as GB Deaf Nationals.
  • Be aware that some swimmers may have balance problems.
  • Some swimmers may prefer an outside lane, near the starter signal.
  • Notify competition organisers that a deaf swimmer is attending.
  • Create a preparation checklist for deaf-friendly swimming galas (see below).

Preparation checklist

Every swimming coach and team manager knows that swimming galas can be hectic and confusing, especially for first time competitors. Make sure you're fully prepared by using our handy checklist for deaf-friendly swimming galas.

Important questions

  • Are any swimmers competing for the first time?
  • How do you prefer to start the race (beeper, strobe or touch)?
  • Are swimmers in the appropriate lane based on their preferred start method?
  • Do you need to make changes to your risk assessment?
  • If staying overnight, who is responsible for alerting deaf swimmers to an emergency during the night?