Over the past 28 years, Len Phoenix from Suffolk has raced over 346,000 metres and has swum over, an incredible 7.2 million metres in training.
This year, the 67-year-old, who has taught swimming at Stradbroke Swim and Fitness Centre for 25 years, reached an impressive milestone in his Masters swimming career, winning his 1000th medal.
Len’s swimming story began in his teenage years before leaving for college. He competed for Stowmarket Swimming Club for seven years before taking a break from swimming, instead playing rugby for two decades.
After his back stopped him from playing rugby, Len’s passion and enthusiasm for swimming was refuelled. He very quickly got involved with Masters swimming, re-joining the local Stowmarket club that his great-great-grandfather helped to set up around 120 years ago.
Since then, Len has won Masters medals across all four strokes at local, regional, national, and international level. He has also taken part in 26 consecutive Swimathon events.
Speaking about his incredible achievement, Len said: “It’s not really been about the medals and reaching this milestone. It’s been about the incredible journey that I have been on to get there.
“Of course it’s great to win, but medals are an aside for me. They are proof of all the incredible things I have done and memories of all the wonderful competitions I have raced at.
“One of the most important things for me, and what keeps me motivated, is sheer enjoyment of the sport and a huge chunk of that enjoyment is because of Masters Swimming.
“Masters swimming is such a fun and friendly environment. Over the last 28 years, I have met lots of amazing people, many of whom have gone on to become very close friends.
“There is also a huge sense of personal achievement through Masters swimming. It’s an opportunity to defy your age and beat you PB’s.”
Len credits his Master swimming achievements to multiple World Masters record holder, Jane Asher.
“At 85 years-old, Jane [Asher] is a revelation to the Masters swimming community, not only as a competitor but also as a coach and as a friend.
“Jane has encouraged lots of people into Masters swimming, including myself. I didn’t see my swimming career ever reaching beyond club level but Jane inspired and motivated me to join the Masters swimming community.
“The next thing I knew I was competing at my regional Championships and my journey to 1000 medals had begun. I haven’t looked back since.”
Maria Smith, Duty Manager at Stradbroke Swim and Fitness Centre, said: “For the whole time I have known Len, I have never seen his passion or enthusiasm for swimming fail.
“He really is a truly magnificent person and is prepared to help anybody and share his love for swimming with them.”
Sharon Lock, ASA National Masters Development Officer, said: “Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise at any age and it’s great to see people like Len promoting Masters swimming. Hopefully his story will inspire others to get involved.
“I would like to congratulate Len on his incredible achievement. He is a role model for swimmers of all ages.”
Len Phoenix’s Swimming Highlights so far…
- Winning my first National titles at the Masters Championships (25m) in 2002. I won gold in the 400m and 1500m Freestyle, I was absolutely ecstatic.
- Stradbroke Swim and Fitness Centre winning Swimathon ‘Pool of the Year’ in 20014. I have completed 26 consecutive Swimathon challenges. It’s such a great event to be part of.
- Competing at the 2002 World Masters Games in Melbourne, Australia was a wonderful experience. It was fantastic to be part of a multi-sports event.
- Being named local Sports Personality of the Year in 2001. When I was invited to attend the ceremony, I had absolutely no idea that I would end up on stage collecting the award.
Len Phoenix’s Medal Haul: 1987 – February 2016
|Total Front Crawl||138||137||111||386|
|Total Back Stroke||166||100||37||303|
|Total Breast Stroke||18||30||12||60|
|Total Ind. Medley||67||45||14||126|
|Total Team Relays||11||13||10||34|