Lewis Pugh: The first man to swim across the North Pole

Lewis Pugh is a South African extreme swimmer, marine advocate, and former maritime lawyer.

In 2007 he became the first person to swim across the North Pole. He completed the 1km swim in -1.5°C waters, wearing just his speedos and goggles, earning himself the nickname ‘the human polar bear’. Since then he has swam in Mount Everest’s glacial lake, Antarctica, and completed long distance swims in all of the Seven Seas.

Lewis_Finishes_Swim_and_Helped_out_of_Lake
Lewis Pugh is helped out the icy waters after he completed a record 1,000m swim across a glacial lake (at 5,300m in altitude) under the summit of Mt Everest to draw attention to the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. Photo: Michael Walker

In all of these swims he is constantly pushing his body to extremes. This may seem crazy, but his reason is simple: he wants to raise awareness about the plight of oceans in the face of climate change.

“When you’ve got purpose everything becomes possible”

It started at the North Pole where the swim was carried out to raise awareness about the melting sea ice. Since then he’s swum in some of the world’s most amazing places which have all been affected by climate change. The glacial lake which he swam in was formed by the melting of Mount Everest’s glaciers, and his swims in the Seven Seas were to highlight the need for more marine protected areas.

Lewis Pugh is also the United Nations Environmental Program’s ‘patron of the oceans’ and speaks to governments across the world about the importance of preserving the oceans. Next week he’s going to be at the COP21 conference in Paris, urging the world’s leaders to act on climate change before it’s too late.

Finally, as if all of these achievements weren’t enough, he is an amazing inspirational speaker and storyteller. Watch the interview to hear his story and his views on climate change.