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Swimming

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Swimming

If Japan has been excelling in any para-sport, it's swimming. Japanese swimmers with functional impairments, visual impairments, and intellectual impairments have been breaststroking and backstroking to the podium at every Paralympic Game. In this sport, athletes are carefully divided into classifications depending on their impairment type and level, and compete within their class. In-water starts are permitted for swimmers with lower limb impairments.

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How are visually impaired swimmers able to tell when they're getting close to the edge of the pool? The answer is tappers. For S11 events in which swimmers are completely blind, assistants called 'Tappers' are required for safety. Basically, tappers use a stick to tap a swimmer on the head or forehead to signal the swimmer when to turn. At present, there are no official rules regulating the design of tap sticks, and a custom-made stick made from a flexible fishing rod is used in Japan. Because of the stick's high quality, the Japanese team is sometimes inquired about their stick by foreign teams. Another golden opportunity for a made-in-Japan device to make a difference.

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