Never Giving Up on Your Dreams: The Final Stretch to Swim the English Channel

27 Jul 2017 | by Les Roches


Les Roches alumnus Chris Astill-Smith gives his final update before undertaking an enormous challenge: swimming from England to France, across the English Channel. Chris is raising money and awareness for UK children’s charity Dreams Come True.

Three weeks to go and I can’t stop thinking about stepping foot on French soil…I can already smell the baguettes. Time is going by quickly, so this will be my last blog post before I embark on the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m going to write a bit about what I’m going through physically and mentally right now.

The Hardest Part Has Just Begun

These last few weeks are definitely the hardest part of the training. Everything I do each day is now revolving around being in the best possible shape to complete the challenge. My diet has to be spot on, my sleep has to be perfect and my training foolproof.

I’m training every day now, alternating between a tough 5 to 10 km set and an active recovery day, which involves a 1 km easy swim, gym work and lots of stretching. My diet has to be nutrient-packed, with a good balance of vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and good fats. I’m aiming to get in bed by 10pm each night to get a good nine hours of sleep.

Swimming Past Mental Hurdles

Mentally, things have been extremely tough. Not once in this whole journey have I ever considered giving up, although when I’ve been swimming in cold water for five hours I do ask myself, “Why would anyone put himself or herself through this?”. I think there are two sides to what I’m going through mentally, when I’m training and when I’m not.

When I’m training I’ve had to train my mind to overcome difficult times. There are always stages when all I want to do is quit and call it a day, but I know that if I quit then this will have a knock on effect mentally once I get out the pool. I’ll be disappointed in myself and start questioning whether I’m up for the challenge.

It’s even harder in the cold water. I have to continuously tell myself that I’m really warm and swimming in this cold water is really refreshing, when in actual fact it’s freezing cold and I’m incredibly uncomfortable. I find thinking and focusing on warm things such as hot coffee, warm climates and fire helps this.

The mental side of things when I’m not training is also extremely tough. I feel a lot of nerves coming from the sinking reality that I’m actually going to swim to France wearing nothing but speedos, a hat and goggles. But nothing great is easy; if it were easy then everyone would do it!

I can’t see myself failing and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and more.

If you’d like to watch any of the live streaming, you can follow it by liking this Facebook page:

And here is a video of the 8 mile swim I did in Torbey a few weeks ago as part of my training.

See you on the other side,


Read more about Chris and his English Channel swim:

Les Roches


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