The Paralympics have grown from a small collection of British World War II veterans in 1948 to the second-largest international sport event in 2008.
The formal explanation of the term "Paralympic" is that it derives from the Greek preposition παρά, pará ("beside" or "alongside") and thus refers to a competition held in parallel with the Olympic Games. The Summer Games of 1988 held in Seoul was the first time the term "Paralympic" came into official use.
The United States finished third in the gold and overall medal count, behind host nation China and Great Britain. The finish was an improvement from the 2004 Paralympics, where the U.S. finished fourth in the gold and overall medal count. The U.S. saw significant gains in Paralympic swimming, winning 17 gold medals and 44 total medals, 9 more than they took home from Athens. U.S. swimmers set a total of 16 world records, 23 Paralympic records, 48 Pan American records and 99 American records. U.S. coverage of the Games was provided by the Universal Sports Television Network and the official website of the U.S. Paralympic Team, usparalympics.org.