The 1st Seoul International Para Open Water Championships and the 3rd National Para Open Water Championships will be held in the Han River that runs through Seoul, Korea between July 9-12.
The event is for those who are classified as S1-10 disabled athletes and is sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee. S1-S4 swimmers can receive navigational assistance.
Reportedly inspired by Natalie du Toit of South Africa and the inclusion of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the Beijing Olympic Games, this event is the world’s first officially certified 5K open water international competition for disabled athletes.
After hosting domestic 1.6K open water swims in 2007 and 2008, the Seoul Disabled Swimming Federation established the first international open water swimming event for disabled swimmers in 2009.
According to USA Swimming's Dave Thomas who will be a technical delegate to this event, there was a 5K open water race in Argentina for the 2002 World Championships and again in 2006 at the world championships in Durban, South Africa, but this will be the first international swimming competition for the disabled held in Korea and the first stand-alone 5K international open water competition for disabled athletes.
In an amazingly positive view of the future, Korea is looking forward to a time when the Paralympics adopts open water swimming in the same way that the Olympic Games adopted open water swimming in 2009.