Swim Magazine

How did elite swimmer Andreas Waschburger break the English Channel world record in 2023?

On a sunny, calm day in September 2023, elite German open-water swimmer Andreas Waschburger, 36, broke Australian Trent Grimsey’s 2012 English Channel record of 6hrs 55mins, setting a new world record of 6:45:25. Swim magazine talked to Andreas, just after his epic 32km swim, about how he did it.

CATEGORY: Features

What made Andreas Waschburger decide to swim the Channel and try to break the record?

Already a few years ago I had the idea of swimming the English Channel. Petar Stoychev and Christof Wandratsch [former Channel record-holders] ultimately encouraged me to do this. They persuaded me and also put me in touch with the famous boatman Michael Oram.

Andreas held a pace of around 1:10 per 100m for the entire swim. How did he achieve that for almost seven hours?

I have been training for the English Channel since the beginning of the year. However, I think my years of training in long-distance swimming gave me the ability to maintain this pace for such a long time. In preparation, we made increased tests in the pool. Increased monthly 10km, 15km, 20km, 25km and 30km. The six hours of effort over 30km in the pool were particularly hard due to the many turns I made. In this session we always trained a 1:12 pace per 100m.

What is Andreas Waschburger’s training regime?

From Monday until Saturday I train in the pool 10 times a week. Always something between 80–100km. That makes around 3,500 to 4,000km in a year. This is supplemented by two units of strength training and one athletic training session. I go to the physiotherapist twice a week for regeneration. In the last few months, I have been going to the cold chamber (cryotherapy) twice a week specifically to prepare for the English Channel.

Did everything go to plan on the day?

Yes, everything went according to plan and I felt really good that day. Everything was just right, I had slept well the night before. I had no problems during the swim. In retrospect, I think I could have pushed my limits even further. But maybe that’s just my sporty ambition and my ability to torture myself. I was accompanied and supported by my trainer, Jan Wolfgarten, my fiancée, Jasmin, and my best friend, Rouven. Rouven also took care of the photos and videos. Not to forget my sponsor Ursapharm/Hylo Sports, without whom this costly project would not have been possible. A movie about my entire project will be released afterwards.

Andreas’s pilot, Mike Oram, is a Channel legend and featured in issue 1 of Swim magazine. How did he help?

It gave me security to know that I was travelling with Michael and with his over 60 years of experience at sea. I trusted Michael, his knowledge and experience 100%. Michael is a great person and I am glad that we achieved this together. On the high seas he is a real legend.

Did Andreas follow a special diet in training and what nutrition did he have during the swim?

I eat gluten-free due to an intolerance. Furthermore, I make sure I get enough protein and take nutritional supplements such as Omega or vitamins (similar to the Cologne List). I avoid caffeine in everyday life; I only use it during competitions. During hard training sessions, I drink additional carbohydrates. When swimming the English Channel, I had a special carbohydrate mixture. Anne Haug, the well-known Ironman athlete, recommended this personalised mix to me.

What is Andreas Waschburger’s background? What is the secret to his longevity?

I can now look back on almost 20 years of open-water swimming. I have been to 54 world cup events (33 times in top eight), six European championships, five world championships and one ice world championships. I won some medals, some good placings, but I also gained a lot more experience in open-water swimming.

I can count myself lucky that I haven’t had a major injury in almost 30 years of swimming. I can’t name a secret recipe right now. But outside of the water I make sure I get enough regeneration, especially as I get older. During strength training, I pay attention to preventive exercises for the shoulder.

You can read more interviews with elite swimmers in the latest issue of Swim magazine.