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This study examined para swimmers’ athlete development experiences from the perspectives and reflections of athletes, and parents of athletes, with a focus on the constraints and challenges experienced. Guided by interpretive phenomenological analysis, 12 participants engaged in the interview process (seven parents and five athletes). Five themes were identified: fundamental skill development, personal connection, coaching, classification, and connecting with others “like me.” Through a discussion of the differences in development experiences between the participants in this study and the current literature on athlete development, the authors highlight areas of concern in applying a non-para-specific athlete development model to para swimmers. This study identifies several areas of consideration in the future design of a para athlete development framework or model.
The authors are with Western University, London, ON, Canada.