Stradbroke swimmer’s medal wins top 1,000

Len Phoenix with his latest swimming medals taking his total to over 1000.

Len Phoenix with his latest swimming medals taking his total to over 1000.

A grand achievement has been celebrated by one north Suffolk swimmer whose passion for the sport has taken him all over the world.

Len Phoenix, from Stradbroke, near Diss, has amassed 1,009 medals in competition swimming – reaching the four-figure total at the Sudbury SC Masters Meet.

Swimming a total of 346,065 metres in races, the 67-year-old believes he has completed at least another seven million metres in training.

Mr Phoenix, who is also a lifeguard and Swim Fit instructor at Stradbroke Swim and Fitness Centre, said he only realised how close he was to the target when he transferred his records from a book detailing every swim he had done since he got back into the sport – after injuries prevented him from playing rugby in 1987 – on to a digital spreadsheet.

'I nearly fell off my chair,' he said.

'I was at nearly 800 medals.

'I was looking for something to aim at – I thought there were probably quite a few that have done it before and I thought 1,000 medals is one target to go for. It's a bit of a milestone.'

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The keen sportsman was inspired to keep a record after meeting 84-year-old Jane Asher, who has broken more than 70 Masters records and has more than 2,000 medals – she is someone who inspired Mr Phoenix.

He said: 'I've got a huge passion for the sport and I have had an absolute rollercoaster of a journey.

'I have met some incredible people – Jane Asher is one of them, who is still swimming and still breaking records.

'She had a book with all the events and results she got – I thought, that's a great idea I'll do that.'

And despite being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, five years ago, he has continued to win medals – including 107 in the past year to bring him to the grand total.

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