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National Paralympic swimming championships start Friday in Orlando

Image of a competitive swimmer in a lap pool, swimming a race.
Courtesy U.S. Paralympics Swimming
Record-setting Paralympic swimmer Olivia Chambers competes in the Para Swimming World Series in Minneapolis earlier this year.

Around 120 swimmers from across the U.S. and beyond will compete this weekend in the 2023 U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Championships, marking the organization’s first time hosting an event in Orlando.

Participants will compete in timed swimming races, like butterfly and backstroke, at the Rosen Aquatic and Fitness Center: home to one of the fastest competition pools in the country, according to U.S. Paralympics Swimming.

“We're excited for an opportunity at a fast pool,” said U.S. Paralympics Swimming Director Erin Popovich, who’s helping oversee this weekend’s meet. “Being able to come down to just a little bit warmer climate in the winter, and offer the swimmers a fast pool, warm climate and a fun area … this time of year is a great opportunity to help them succeed.”

Popovich holds 19 swimming medals herself, including 14 gold medals. She previously competed in 3 Paralympic Games, which since 1988 are held every four years, during the same year and in the same host city as the Olympic Games.

Image of a line of competitive swimmers in a pool, getting ready to begin a race.
Courtesy U.S. Paralympics Swimming
Swimmers gear up for a race earlier this year at the Para Swimming World Series in Minneapolis.

Paralympic sports provide elite-level competition for athletes with physical, visual and intellectual impairments, Popovich said.

This weekend’s championships will give swimmers a chance to improve race times and potentially qualify for next year’s Paralympic Games in Paris. Members of the 2024 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Team will be selected in June, at trials in Minneapolis, Popovich said.

Recent breakout performers like Olivia Chambers, Grace Nuhfer and Noah Jaffe will be among those competing in Orlando this weekend, Popovich said.

There’s no charge for spectators to watch this weekend’s races at the Rosen Aquatic and Fitness Center on International Drive. You can find more information and a meet schedule here.

Molly is an award-winning reporter with a background in video production and investigative journalism, focused on covering environmental issues for WMFE and WMFV.

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