World championship pipe dream a reality for Diss triathlete

Lee Shipp is heading to Chicago to represent Great Britain next month following intensive training with coach Len Phoenix in Stradbroke.

A Suffolk man who less than two years ago could just master a breast stroke is to represent Great Britain on the world stage in Chicago next month.

Triathlete Lee Shipp, 35, wanted to undertake a new challenge and in April 2013 competed in his first duathlon. By June that year he was pushing himself to triathlon events.

But it was when Mr Shipp enlisted the coaching of Len Phoenix, at Stradbroke Swim and Fitness Centre, that his swimming really began to strengthen.

Next month, he will represent Great Britain in the World Championships in Chicago in a triathlon event comprising a 750m open water swim, a 20km cycle and 5km run.


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He said: “The first year I did the triathlons it was a struggle. I couldn’t swim very well. I got by doing breast stroke, but then I got put in contact with Len and it’s made no end of difference, in my confidence as well.

“The World Championships was a pipe dream. I was always reasonably quick at running and biking but it was the swimming.

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“I’m very excited but a bit nervous. You think ‘will I actually be good enough?’ You have that self doubt. I have to think I have earned the place, it’s not been given to me, so I must be good enough.”

Mr Pheonix, said: “This guy is astounding. In less than two years he has risen to a world stage and is representing Great Britain.

“Swimming was his weakest discipline, in which he has made meteoric progress.

“For a small sports centre we make quite a lot of noise. This year this has just blown us out of the water...you realise that there’s something quite amazing going on right in front of you.

“When he came to us he could just manage a front crawl. Now he’s one of the fastest in the pool.

“This guy is one of the most outstanding people I have seen turn up in a long while. To do that in such a short space of time, to come from somebody who just did breast stroke...You don’t often meet people like that. When you do, they are incredible and few and far between.”

With Mr Shipp so far having funded the feat himself, with the bill for travel, accommodation and equipment exceeding £2,000, he is now appealing for a sponsor to help him cover some of the costs.

To offer your support as a sponsor, contact Mr Shipp by emailing cornwallisarms@sky.com

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