Les Roches alumnus Chris Astill English Channel Challenge

Swimming the English Channel for Charity: Training, Nutrition and Body Composition

27 Apr 2017 | by Les Roches


Hey everyone!

I’m now four months out from embarking on my solo swim from England to France. I’ve been training for this challenge for over a year, so I thought it would be a good time to write a blog post on the nutrition and training regimes I’ve been undertaking so far.

Bodybuilding… Like a Seal

The most exciting part about this journey is that I’ve had to gain 10 kg of extra weight, which is much easier said than done! According to Channel Swimming Association rules, in order to have my swim properly ratified, I’m not allowed to wear any kind of wetsuit during the crossing. It’s for this reason that I had to gain extra weight: Just like a seal, the excess fat helps insulate my body from the cold water.

This may sound like a dream come true, having someone tell you that you need to purposely get fat, but it’s actually much harder than just eating a Domino’s pizza and a 12-pack of Krispy Kremes every day. The problem here is that junk food doesn’t pack a lot of nutrients, so instead I’m eating around 4,500 calories each day, typically consisting of vegetables, rice, potatoes and organic meat, along with fats like coconut oil, peanut butter and avocados.

Although I sound like I’m slightly complaining about eating that much food each day, it’s nowhere near as tough as the training itself. I’m currently swimming from 25 km to 30 km per week, combined with two gym sessions and a sports massage.

Training for the High Seas

I will typically train five to six times per week, each pool set consisting of 5 to 7 km with the odd 10 km straight swim. Half of the week I’ll be doing sprint sets and the other half, steady state training at about 70% max effort.

Throughout the winter I’ve only been training in the pool because the ocean is too cold. I’m currently spending the week in Greece, swimming in the ocean to prepare my body for my English Channel qualifying swim, which I’ll be doing in Croatia the second week of May. This qualifying swim will consist of a six- to eight-hour swim in 15-degree water.

I’m really looking forward to spending less time in chlorinated pools and more time in the sea. As each month goes by I’m having to ramp up my distance and acclimatize my body to cold water. I’m sure to be spending all my summer weekends swimming in Dover Harbour.

So far, I’ve raised £8,500 towards my £25,000 goal for children’s charity Dreams Come True. If you’d like to donate, you can follow the link here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ChannelSoloChris

If you have any other questions, leave a comment — I’d love to hear from you!


Read more about alumnus Chris and his charity Channel swim:

Dreams Come True: Why I’m Swimming the English Channel
Alumnus Chris Astill-Smith Prepares to Swim the English Channel for Charity!

Les Roches


Comments are closed.