A Difficult Balancing Act

A Difficult Balancing Act

Lewis Pugh is doing a lot of balancing for his upcoming swim on Mount Everest at 17,000 feet where he will attempt to swim a mile in a lake created out of melting glacial ice.

He explains several key issues that he must take into account and walk a fine line.

First, I must gain more weight to handle the extreme cold of the glacial lake, but not too much – as I still have to walk up Mt Everest. At the moment I am spending about 50% of my time hiking up mountains and 50% of my time swimming.

Secondly, the longer I spend walking up Mt Everest, the better I will acclimatize to the altitude. Slow is good when you walk up a big mountain. I am planning to spend three weeks acclimatizing. But the longer I acclimatize, the less physically fit I will be [for swimming]. I will not have swum for three weeks prior to the big day – which is not ideal.”

“Third, when you undertake a swim to draw attention to an environmental issue – you have to balance training with publicity. Three or four hours of everyday is taken up with press interviews – which is time away from the mountain and the sea. But it is vital for me to tell the story to the world’s media.”

And lastly, when you undertake such a dangerous swim, you have to balance courage with safety. There comes a time when you can not make the swim any safer – and you just have to have the courage dive in and trust your team. My support team is headed by Major General Tim Toyne Sewell, the former Commandant of Sandhurst, the British Army Officer Training School – so I am in the best possible hands.”

What choices does Lewis face: Plumping up for the water or slimming down for the hike up. Promoting the swim or training for it. Courage vs. safety?

But Lewis has confidence in his preparation, “Training is going on well. I am doing lots of speed training. And I am bulking up nicely – I am now 98 kg. I hope to be around 105 kg by the time of the swim in two months time. This is important as the water will be just above freezing.”

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones