Sascha Kindred in high spirits for pursuit of swimming glory at his sixth Paralympics
As a five-time Paralympian, Sascha Kindred has witnessed first hand how the event's profile has soared over recent editions, but for the 34-year-old the rewards are still solely to be found in the pool.
Kindred, who broke the world 200m butterfly record last year, competed at his first Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996 and has been present at each subsequent Games, claiming six gold medals and 11 overall.
In that time he has seen media attention grow from a half-hour TV highlights package to the sort of spotlight the athletes are now enjoying in the countdown to London 2012, a Games in which he will compete on front of a sell-out crowd in the Aquatics Centre.
"I just love my sport and it's a bonus getting that attention and it helps to build our profile," said Kindred, who is joined in the 44-strong British swimming team by his wife, Nyree. "But if I didn't have it, I would still love my sport and I'd still love what I do. It helps my disability and keeps me fit. I'd still do swimming if it wasn't there."
Kindred, who has cerebral palsy, claimed a silver medal on his first Paralympic outing in Atlanta as an 18-year-old, a competition that is still clear in his mind's eye. "The opening ceremony was my first one and you walked out in front of 80,000 people," he said. "Because that was my first Games that is the biggest memory I've got. It was such a buzz.
"The crowds at the pool were great. As soon as you went out the crowd lifted you because they were there to watch and support you.
"Knowing it is going to be home support in London is going to make it even more special."
Nyree, who also has cerebral palsy, is a nine-time Paralympic medallist, while the next generation will be represented in one-year-old daughter Ella up in the stands.
"She has got a bit of chlorine in her genes somewhere," said Kindred. "She'll be in the crowd supporting us, wearing her Team Kindred T-shirt - it will be nice to look up and see her. She's a bit young to remember it but in future she can say mum and dad swam in London and I was there."
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