Les Roches alumnus Chris Astill English Channel Challenge

Chris’s English Channel Challenge: Qualifying Swim & Balancing Work with Training

25 May 2017 | by Les Roches


Hi, everyone! It’s three months to go now until I jump into what’s probably going to be the hardest thing I’ll ever do. I’ve just returned from a small town in the north of Croatia called Opatija, where I went on an intense training camp and completed my English Channel qualifying swim. In order to qualify to swim the Channel, you must be able to prove that you can swim for six hours in 15°C water.


I qualified!

I can’t say I had the best weather and sea conditions; it was rainy, cloudy, very choppy and infested with jellyfish. These conditions could very likely be exactly what I’ll encounter when I swim the Channel, so although it was a horrible experience, it’s great preparation! Completing this was a great confidence booster for me; the last time I did a six-hour swim, up at Lake Windermere (Lake District, UK), I tore my subscapular tendon, was very bloated and threw up everything I ate along the way. It took me five months of rehab and adapting a new stroke technique for my shoulder to start feeling better. I was very happy to not encounter any injuries after this swim. The total distance was 20 km, while I racked up 80 km throughout the entire training camp week!


Balancing work and training = no social life

One thing I do find hard is balancing work with so much training. Work-wise, I’m currently running my lifestyle nutrition brand, Nutristrength, in the UK with my brother. I’m very lucky to have the support of my family and friends. My brother Adam knows how much it means to me to complete this challenge and fully understands the amount of training required to attempt such a feat. My current roles in the company focus on the sales, marketing and live events side. We have eight live events this year, all of which take a lot of planning and organization. I feel so lucky to have friends who give up their weekends to help run the events. At times it has been pretty difficult, and I haven’t had time to assist in the planning and pre-show preparation, but my friend and colleague Patrick has stepped in to help out. Here’s a little video of one of our latest events up in Birmingham.

It does take a bit of planning. I have set distances to cover each week, and if I know I’ve got a three-day event on the weekend, I’ll try to get most of the distance ticked off between Monday and Thursday, then cover whatever’s left in the evenings on the weekend.

I’m lucky to have a flexible job, so I’m able to train whenever the pool is quietest, typically late afternoon. I’m usually up early to crack on with whatever the day throws at me. I tend to make a list of things that I need to do and try to tick off as many as I can before training because after training I’m usually so tired I can’t mentally function. It’s usually dinner, then I’m in bed by around 10:00 or 10:30 pm; yes, my social life has now become non-existent!

All in all, it’s a goal that’s not going to be around forever. 12 more weeks and I’ll have completed everything, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to feel weird to have a normal life again!

— Chris

Read more about Chris and his charity Channel swim:

– Swimming the English Channel for Charity: Training, Nutrition and Body Composition
– Dreams Come True: Why I’m Swimming the English Channel
– Alumnus Chris Astill-Smith Prepares to Swim the English Channel for Charity!

Les Roches


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