Alex Anthony Saffy is a swimmer who was awarded a Tier 2 Scholarship within the 2023 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program.
Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 2005, Alex and his family moved to Bunbury Western Australia in 2013. Alex was born healthy however, became very sick at around one years old. Following this illness, his parents noticed a change in his development. He became very weak and stopped walking and talking, leading to extensive physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy sessions to aid his development.
Throughout his early years, Alex struggled with gross motor activities and found running or jumping quite difficult, often falling over if he tried to run too fast. As he aged, his parents noticed involuntary movements and body tremors along with muscle spasms in his legs, especially his left leg and foot. The condition has also resulted in muscle weakness and coordination issues. He was referred to a paediatric neurologist who diagnosed him with myoclonic dystonia/dyskinetic cerebral palsy. The symptoms became more pronounced as he aged, which started resulting in regular disqualifications at swim meets. As a result of this, Alex was encouraged to pursue multi-class (MC) swimming.
Since his diagnosis, Alex has honed his swimming skills with the Bunbury Swimming Club, who he has competed for since 2013 and has since been given the nickname the ‘Bunbury Bullet’. The club has shaped him into one of WA’s most disciplined and talented young swimmers, with Alex even continuing to dominate able-bodied athletes across both pool and open water swimming events specialising in 100m Butterfly, 200 IM, 400m freestyle (all classification of S10).
In 2021, Alex qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, however, was unable to attend due to not being internationally classified.
In 2021, Alex unofficially smashed the world record in the Men’s Multi-Class 200m Butterfly (S9) by over five seconds and placed third at the Australian Swimming Trials in the MC S9 100m butterfly. Shortly after these feats he received the prestigious Wally Foreman Foundation Scholarship.
2022 was a big year of international firsts and podium finishes. Alex was selected to represent Australia at World Champs in Coimbra, Portugal where he placed seventh in the 200m IM (S10) and bronze in the 100m butterfly (S10). He was then selected to represent Australia in his first Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in the 100m butterfly (S10).
Alex does not let anything stand in his way, including his condition or continuing to challenge able-bodied athletes. He is certainly one to watch.
“I am very grateful for all the support I’ve received to pursue my goals and appreciate being selected as a successful SAHOF Scholarship recipient. It is an honour to be given the opportunity especially to be amongst so many amazing athletes and role models.” – Alex Saffy on being selected as a 2023 Tier 2 Scholarship Holder.
Honours & Achievements
- 2021: Australian Able Bodied Junior Open Water – 4th
- 2021: Wally Foreman Foundation Scholarship
- 2021: Australian Swimming Trials – MC S9 100m Butterfly, 2nd
- 2022: Australian MC Championships – S10 100m Butterfly, 3rd
- 2022: Para Swimming World Champs – S10 200m IM, 7th
- 2022: Para Swimming World Champs – S10 100m Butterfly, bronze
- 2022: Birmingham Commonwealth Games – S10 100m Butterfly, silver
- 2023: Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship Holder