Sport-Specific Information
Sport-specific information and Technical Packages will be available in the fall of 2019.

Sport Contacts
Head Office
Swim BC
(604) 898-9100

Head Office
Special Olympics BC
(604) 737-3078


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The sport of swimming has been recorded since prehistoric times, but the modern evolution dates back to the 1800s and was developed primarily in the United States.  Included in the Olympic Games since 1896, the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) was formed in 1908.

Swimming Facts

  • Pools are 50m (long course) or 25m (short course) in length
  • The first four Olympics were held in open water not in pools
  • Touch-sensitive pads electronically record the swimming time of each competitor
  • Dolphin kick is used in butterfly stroke but also added after a start and underwater turns to maximize speed

There are four strokes contested in competitive swimming - butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.  In addition, the four strokes are combined into one event called the medley.

Distances in all strokes are 100m and 200m, with additional freestyle (front crawl) races in the 50m, 400m, 800m (girls), and 1500m (boys).  There is also a 400m individual medley.  It is clear after watching a few swim races that the goal of competition is simple: the first person to touch the electronic touch-pad at the end of the pool wins the race. 

The swimming competition at the BC Summer Games features athletes who are all under 15 years of age.  Preliminaries take place in the morning session, followed by finals in the afternoon, with the exception of the “distance events” (800m and 1500m freestyle) which are contested as “timed finals” with the swimmers racing just once.

The BC Summer Games is also an integral part of the Special Olympics BC Athlete Development Model for swimming.  Athletes are selected based on time standards and training requirement and the event is a qualification for other events such as the Canada Games.

With an extensive coastline and the mild climate in the province, it is not surprising that British Columbia has a long and rich tradition and history in the sport of competitive swimming.  BC has proportionally won more international medals than any other province in Canada, culminating in all three of Canada’s medals at the 2012 Olympic Games including BC Games alumni Brent Hayden and Richard Weinberger and Team BC alumnus Ryan Cochrane.

Swim BC is a provincial organization that represents over 11,000 members in the province, including organizations representing Masters, Open Water, Officials, and Coaches.

Special Olympics is a world-wide organization providing sports training and competition for persons with intellectual disabilities.  Special Olympics BC was incorporated in 1980 and now joins over three million athletes from over 170 countries throughout the world.