Several years ago, in an effort to be inclusive, Middlesex Amateur Swimming Association decided to include multi-classification (MC) swimmers in our County Championships and Open Meets.
In order to be able to hold the competition with MC swimmers included, we have run two competitions at the same time and also swum the MC swimmers with the main competition swimmers in the heats. However, the entry conditions for the MC competition and the main competition are different. The most notable difference is that the MC competition does not have qualifying times (QTs).
An MC swimmer can choose which competition to enter, provided they have the QTs for the main competition. Due to administrative difficulties, to date, the MC swimmers have been in one competition or the other, depending on how they enter.
As those of you that follow Twitter and Facebook may already be aware, we had an issue during our Youth Championships on Saturday, 26th January. This issue involved an MC swimmer, who was entered in the MC competition, wanting to swim in a final of the main competition. Her heat time would have given her a place in the final if she had been entered in the main competition. As she was not in that competition, she was politely told that she could not have a place and why.
The swimmer, who is a very high-achieving Paralympian, was not happy with the reasoning and sent out a Tweet that went viral and was retweeted and commented on by several other coaches, athletes, Paralympians, celebrities and members of the public.
Middlesex Amateur Swimming Association has worked with Swim England since Saturday evening to try and explain the position and look at what changes we can make to ensure we do not, however innocently and unintentionally, make any MC swimmers feel that they are second best.
We, together with other clubs, counties and regions, are following Swim England advice about how to change our conditions and entry procedures and will be making any changes that they suggest, to ensure we remain as inclusive as possible.
Middlesex Amateur Swimming Association
31 January 2019