Sascha Kindred was born in Münster, Germany, in 1977. He moved to Britain in 1980 and learnt to swim aged eleven. Initially, Sascha trained at local swimming clubs but it was not long before he started to compete at the highest level. At the age of sixteen, he represented Great Britain in the World Championships in Malta, where he won a Bronze Medal in the 100 metres SB7 Breaststroke. A year later, he won Gold in that event in the European Championships in France.
Sascha made his Paralympic debut in Atlanta as an 18-year-old and he has gone on to become one of the most successful Paralympic athletes ever, winning medals in six Paralympic Games from 1996 to 2016. He has cerebral palsy, which affects the right side of his body, and he competes in the S6 (butterfly), SM6 (medley) and SB7 (breaststroke) classifications. His 13 Paralympic medals include Seven golds; he has won the 100 metres breaststroke three times and the 200 metres individual medley four times, in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and Rio. In Beijing, Sascha set new World Record times in these two events; he lowered the World Record for the 200 metres individual medley again in Rio and still holds this record. Sascha has an equally impressive record in World Championships, where he has won eleven Gold Medals, and in European Championships, where he has gained 14 Golds.
These achievements may suggest that success for Sascha is very straightforward – but not everything is quite so simple. In 2016, Sascha was preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio but, at the national trials, he missed the qualification time by 0.2 seconds. However, the selectors took other swims that year into account and confirmed his selection. At the Rio games, Sascha started poorly in his less favoured events. Then in the heats of his main event, the 200 metres individual medley, disaster struck and he was disqualified. After an anxious wait, this disqualification was overturned on appeal and Sascha was able to swim in the final, where he won the Gold Medal in a new World-Record time.
Sascha’s longevity as a world-leading swimmer is truly remarkable. At the London Paralympics, aged 34, he swam a personal best and went under his own World Record in the 200 metres individual medley – but one of his rivals swam faster and Sascha came away with a Silver Medal. Four years later in Rio, Sascha stepped up again to win Gold and reclaim the World Record.
Despite the individual nature of swimming events, Sascha is definitely a team player. He has played the valuable role of mentor to Paralympic swimming champions Ellie Simmonds, Ollie Hynd and Matt Wylie. He has been an inspiration to a whole host of athletes, including cyclists like Jody Cundy and Dame Sarah Storey, who were also swimmers in their time. Sascha has paid testimony to Michelle Weltman, his first coach who helped him learn to swim, and to Emma Patrick, who was his coach for almost 17 years. Sascha has been supported by British Swimming and UK Sport while, at home, he enjoys the encouragement of his wife Nyree, herself a former GB para-swimmer, and daughter Ella.
In February 2017, Sascha announced his retirement from competitive swimming. He said that he looks forward to spending more time with his biggest fans, Nyree and Ella, and he hopes to continue inspiring another generation of para-swimmers. Chancellor, I present Sascha Kindred CBE, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.