Lewis Pugh Finished…Now The Really Hard Part Begins
His friend David Bush reported, “Lewis has safely completed the 14-session, 12-day stage swim. The conditions were very challenging. Large grounded icebergs – which usually stem the flow of ice down the icefjord – broke apart. As a result, Lewis’ swim route across the mouth of the icefjord became a very fast moving highway of ice. For the second half of the swim, the team made a dash south to the other side of the fjord and based themselves there in order to have access to swimmable open water.
The UN Patron of the Oceans swam a total of 7.8 km in a multi-stage ice swim in Ilulissat Icefjord within the Arctic Circle. It was not a normal ice swim, although he swam every day in water temperatures between 0°C and 3°C (32°F – 37.4°F) during the 14 sessions. Pugh’s course of the Ilulissat Icefjord is fed by the world’s fastest moving glacier that is moving at an average of 40 meters per day. The Ilulissat Glacier carves icebergs over 1 km tall – including, legend has it, the one that sunk the Titanic.
Pugh’s overriding goal was to highlight the speed of the Climate Crisis ahead of the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, where Pugh will address world leaders and call for urgent action in addition to calling for 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030 in order to help slow the effects of climate change.
Without a doubt, getting in and out of water between 0°C and 3°C 14 separate times in 12 days was the most daunting challenge of his storied career. The swim across the 7.8 kmmouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord,fed by the world’s fastest-moving glacier, started on August 25th. The swim was not point-to-point as moving icebergs and brash ice got in his way.
Day after day for 12 consecutive days, Pugh swam 14 times to swim the distance across the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord. During each swim, Pugh’s body temperature was monitored live because of the risk of hypothermia. He recalled, “This was an extremely challenging swim. Not only because of the cold, and not just because I had to swim in freezing water day after day, without a chance to let my body recover. But because the conditions were also very treacherous.”
[Because of the conditions] everything became harsher. The water was colder, air temperatures plummeted, and I had to deal with the sharp edges of brash ice.”
“For Lewis to judge this swim was his most difficult and challenging is really saying something,” observed Steven Munatones. “Lewis was the first – and remains the only – person to swim across the North Pole, swam an Ice Kilometer 5,200 meters up in Mount Everest, and the first person to swim the 528 km length of the English Channel from Land’s End to Dover.“
In 2018, Pugh moved the British government to protect 30% of oceans by 2030. The UK become the first major economy to commit to this target, and urged other nations to do the same. To date, 86 nations have joined this call, making it the largest conservation drive in history.
And Pugh’s mission continues as he heads tothe upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
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