Lewis Pugh

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Lewis Pugh
Headshot Lewis Pugh.jpg
Lewis Pugh
Born (1969-12-05) 5 December 1969 (age 44)
Plymouth, England
Nationality British
Alma mater

Jesus College, Cambridge

University of Cape Town
Occupation Ocean advocate, maritime lawyer and pioneer swimmer
Parents Surgeon Rear Admiral P.D. Gordon Pugh and Margery Pugh
Honours Order of Ikhamanga (Gold Class) 2009
Website
lewispugh.com

Lewis William Gordon Pugh, OIG (born 5 December 1969) is an ocean advocate, a maritime lawyer and a pioneer swimmer.

He is often described as the "Sir Edmund Hillary of swimming."[1] He was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world.[2] and he frequently swims in vulnerable ecosystems to draw attention to their plight. Pugh is best known for undertaking the first swim across the North Pole in 2007 to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice. In 2010 he swam across a glacial lake on Mount Everest to draw attention to the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas, and the impact the reduced water supply will have on world peace. In 2014 he became the first person to complete a long distance swim in all the Seven Seas, a campaign he undertook to urge nations to create more Marine Protected Areas.

Pugh is a leading figure in efforts to protect the oceans. In 2010 he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for his "potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world through inspiring leadership."[3] And in 2013 the United Nations Environment Programme appointed him "Patron of the Oceans".[4] The same year he was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Early life and family[edit]

Pugh was born in Plymouth, England. His father, Surgeon Rear Admiral P.D. Gordon Pugh, OBE, FRCS was a surgeon in the Royal Navy, an author, and a prolific collector of ceramics of the Victorian era. His mother, Margery Pugh was a Senior Nursing Sister in Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service. Pugh is a descendant of William Carey the famous missionary. His father's cousin, Carey Heydenrych, participated in the "Great Escape" from the German POW camp Stalag Luft III during the Second World War.[5] In 2009 Pugh married Antoinette Malherbe, whom he met at school.

Education[edit]

Pugh grew up on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. When he was 10 years old his family emigrated to South Africa and he was educated at St Andrew's College in Grahamstown and later at Camps Bay High School in Cape Town. He read politics and law at the University of Cape Town and graduated with distinction and at the top of his Masters class. In his mid-twenties he returned to England where he read International Law at Jesus College, Cambridge and then worked as a maritime lawyer in the City of London for a number of years. During this time he concurrently served as a Reservist in the elite British Special Air Service.[6]

Environmental campaigning[edit]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pugh

During his youth Pugh visited many National Parks in South Africa. He attributes this to his father's desire to teach him to love and respect nature after what he had witnessed whilst serving in the Royal Navy.[7] His father was present at the first British atomic bomb test in 1952 and a number of subsequent tests.

In 2003 Pugh left his maritime law practice to campaign for the protection of the oceans. He often addresses Heads of State and business leaders on the topics of climate change, overfishing and pollution and the need for Marine Protected Areas and low carbon economies.

In 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pugh took the evidence of witnesses from across Africa on the effects of climate change at the Pan-African Climate and Poverty Hearings. The evidence was presented to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference.[8]

Public speaking[edit]

Pugh is an accomplished public speaker. He has twice spoken at the influential TEDGlobal conference and is described on their website as a "master story-teller".[9] The Financial Times reported that his speech at TEDGlobal in 2010:

“... was the perfect TED talk: a little bit of action, some thinking outside the box, humbling words on the need to respect nature, a happy ending. A Hollywood scriptwriter could not have structured it better.”[10]

And his speech on environmental leadership at the 2008 Business Innovation Forum Conference in the USA was voted as one of the "7 Most Inspiring Videos on the Web" by Mashable, the social media guide.[11]

Pugh regularly speaks to businesses communities. He has addressed the World Economic Forum at their annual meeting in Davos. He also gave the keynote addresses at Coca-Cola's 125th anniversary in 2011, Lloyd's Agency Network's 200th anniversary in 2011 and Swiss Re's 150th anniversary in 2013.[12]

Polar Defense Project[edit]

In 2008 Pugh founded the Polar Defense Project to campaign for greater protection for the Arctic and a resolution of the maritime boundary disputes. In 2009 it won the Best Project for the Environment at the inaugural Beyond Sport Awards.[13]

Organisations Pugh works with[edit]

Pugh is the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) "Patron of the Oceans". He sits on the Council of Ambassadors for the World Wide Fund for Nature in the UK.[14] He works closely with Dr Ian Player and the Wilderness Leadership School to promote and protect the last wilderness areas on the earth. He is also the Patron of SANCCOB, a NGO dedicated to the rehabilitation of seabirds.

BP Oil Disaster[edit]

Pugh was outspoken on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In a feature in Business Day he said:

"They [BP top executives] should be criminally prosecuted. They should go to jail. What I can't understand is why people haven't responded more vigorously, by boycotting BP."[15]

Fracking for gas in the Karoo[edit]

Pugh also opposes fracking for gas in the Karoo region of South Africa. In a public speech to Royal Dutch Shell in 2011 entitled "Standing up to Goliath" he said:

"Never, ever did I think there would be a debate in this arid country about which was more important – gas or water. We can survive without gas. We can not live without water ... Now is the time for change. We cannot drill our way out of the energy crisis. The era of fossil fuels is over. We must invest in renewable energy. And we must not delay."[16]

Environmental awareness expeditions[edit]

Pugh has undertaken a number of symbolic swims to highlight environmental issues:

River Thames[edit]

In 2006, he became the first person to swim the entire length of the River Thames. He undertook the swim to draw attention to the severe drought in England and the dangers of global warming. The 325 km (202 mi) swim took him 21 days to complete. The river had stopped flowing due to the drought, forcing Pugh to run the first 42 km (26 mi) of the river. While swimming through London, Pugh exited the water and made a visit to Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street to call on the United Kingdom to move towards a low carbon economy. Shortly afterwards the Prime Minister introduced the Climate Change Bill to Parliament.

Maldives[edit]

In February 2007 Pugh became the first person to swim across the width of the Maldives. He undertook the swim to raise awareness about the effect of climate change on low lying islands in the world. The 140 km (87 mi) swim took 10 days to complete.

North Pole[edit]

Pugh undertaking the first long distance swim across the North Pole

In July 2007 Pugh undertook the first long-distance swim across the Geographic North Pole. The 1 km (0.62 mi) swim, across an open patch of sea, in minus 1.7 °C (29 °F) water, took 18 minutes and 50 seconds to complete. Jørgen Amundsen, the great-grandnephew of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, paced Pugh by skiing alongside him during the swim.[17]

The swim coincided with the lowest coverage of Arctic sea ice ever recorded. After his swim he said:

"From what I have seen, I think the Arctic will be largely free of summer sea ice within a decade."[citation needed]

Arctic kayak[edit]

Pugh attempting to kayak to the North Pole in 2008

In September 2008, Pugh, accompanied by a team aboard a ship where he slept, attempted to kayak the 1,200 km from Svalbard, across the Arctic Ocean, to the North Pole, but the team abandoned the effort 135 km from the start.[18] The aim was to further highlight the melting sea ice. The expedition coincided with some scientists predicting that the North Pole could be free of sea-ice in the summer of 2008, for the first time in thousands of years.[19] Pugh stated that despite several attempts, they were unable to find a gap in the ice. In his autobiography Pugh wrote:

"Ironically, global warming played no small part in undermining the entire expedition. We believed that the greater melting of summer ice would open up large areas of sea and allow us to paddle north at good speed. What we did not fully appreciate was that to the north of us there was a widespread melting of sea ice off the coast of Alaska and the New Siberian Islands and the ice was being pushed south towards us ... The evidence of climate change was stark. Fourteen months before I'd sailed north and I'd seen a preponderance of multi-year ice about three metres thick north of Spitsbergen, but this time most of the ice was just a metre thick."[20]

Mt Everest[edit]

Pugh completing a 1km swim across a glacial lake on Mt Everest

In May 2010 Pugh swam across Lake Pumori, a glacial lake on Mt Everest, to highlight the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas and the impact the reduced water supply will have on world peace.[21] Millions of people from India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal rely on the water, which flows from the Himalayan glaciers. The 1 km (0.62 mi) swim, at an altitude of 5,300 metres, in 2 °C water (35 °F),[22] took 22 minutes and 51 seconds to complete. To date, it's the highest swim ever undertaken.

The Seven Seas[edit]

In August 2014 Pugh undertook a campaign to urge nations to set aside at least 10% of the world's seas as Marine Protected Areas. It involved Pugh undertaking the first long distance swim in all the Seven Seas followed by meetings with policy makers to talk about the benefits of creating Marine Protected Areas. The campaign took place in the following locations:

Media[edit]

Pugh has appeared on numerous TV shows including Good Morning America, Jay Leno,[23] Richard & Judy, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[24] and BBC Breakfast. He has also been featured by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Vital Signs on CNN,[25] ADN on France 2, Carte Blanche and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.[26]

In 2009 Pugh starred in Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure where he trained the English actor to swim across the icy waters of Llyn Llydaw, a lake on Snowdon in Wales. Afterwards Robson Green said:

"… Lewis prepared me psychologically for something that was way outside my comfort zone. His introduction to the notion of committing to an objective, becoming unstoppable and reaching that objective was life changing. There was no swim I couldn't do after meeting Lewis because anything is possible if you COMMIT!!"[27]

In 2013 he appeared on the front of The Big Issue holding a northern rockhopper penguin in an issue dedicated to ocean issues.[28]

Books[edit]

In 2010 Pugh's autobiography "Achieving the Impossible" was published by Simon & Schuster. It quickly became a No. 1 best-seller.[29]

In 2013 Pugh wrote a second book entitled "21 Yaks and a Speedo". The title is a reference to his swim on Mt Everest. The book is a collection of 21 short stories about his expeditions and the lessons he has learnt from them. It was published by Jonathan Ball Publishers. The Financial Times described the book as "compelling"[30] and Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said "The book made me want to stand a little taller."[31]

Swimming[edit]

Over a period of 25 years Pugh has pioneered more swims around famous landmarks than any other swimmer in history. In an interview with Forbes he stated:

"Between Lynne Cox, Martin Strel and myself, we've hit all of the world's major landmarks. There's really nothing left."[32]

In 2013 he was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.[33]

Early swims[edit]

Pugh had his first real swimming lesson in 1986, at the age of 17. One month later he swam from Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned) to Cape Town. In 1992 he swam across the English Channel. In 2002 he broke the record for the fastest time for swimming around Robben Island.

He was the first person to swim around Cape Agulhas (the southernmost point in Africa), the Cape of Good Hope, and the Cape Peninsula (a 100 km (62 mi) swim from Cape Town to Muizenberg). Pugh was also the first person to swim across an African Great Lake, namely Lake Malawi.

Cold water swims[edit]

Pugh training in Antarctica in 2005

After 2003 Pugh focused on pioneering swims in the coldest and most hostile waters of the world. All of them were undertaken in accordance with Channel Swimming Association rules, in just a pair of Speedo swimming trunks, cap and goggles. He became the first person to swim around the infamous North Cape, the northernmost point in Europe. The following year he became the first person to swim down the entire length of Sognefjord in Norway, a 204 km (127 mi) swim which took him 21 days to complete.

In 2005 he broke the world record for the farthest-north long-distance swim by undertaking a 1 km (0.62 mi) swim at 80° North around Verlegenhuken, the northern-most cape in Spitsbergen. He followed that five months later by breaking Lynne Cox's world record for the farthest-south long-distance swim by undertaking a 1 km (0.62 mi) swim at 65° South at Petermann Island off the Antarctic Peninsula.

In 2006 Pugh challenged Russia's top cold water swimmers to a 500-metre race at the World Winter Swimming Championships in Finland. He easily won the gold medal, beating Russian Champion Alexander Brylin by over 100 metres and the bronze medalist Nefatov Vladimir by 125 metres.

Anticipatory Thermo-Genesis[edit]

On both his Arctic and Antarctic expeditions Professor Tim Noakes, a sports scientist from the University of Cape Town, recorded Pugh's ability to raise his core body temperature by nearly 2 °C in anticipation of entering the freezing water.[34][35] He coined the phrase "anticipatory thermo-genesis" (the creation of heat before an event).[36][37] This phenomenon had not been noted in any other human. Pugh believes it is a Pavlovian Response to years of cold water swimming.

"Holy Grail" of swimming[edit]

In 2006 Pugh achieved the "Holy Grail" of swimming by becoming the first person to complete a long-distance swim in all 5 oceans of the world. To date he is the only person to have achieved this feat. His five swims were :

Awards[edit]

Achim Steiner appointing Pugh as UNEP's Patron of the Oceans

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bill Pennington (May 2010). "Swimmer conquers Mt Everest". New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Joe Spring (December 2009). "World's Best Cold Water Swimmer". Outside Online. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "Young Global Leaders 2010". World Economic Forum. March 2010. Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  4. ^ "Pioneer Swimmer Lewis Pugh Unveiled as UN Environment Programme Patron of the Oceans". United Nations Environment Programme. June 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (May 2010). "Achieving the Impossible. A Fearless Leader. A Fragile Earth". Simon & Schuster. 
  6. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (May 2010). "Achieving the Impossible. A Fearless Leader. A Fragile Earth". Simon & Schuster. 
  7. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (July 2009). "Time to Believe". Speech at TEDGlobal 2009. Retrieved 22 July 2009. 
  8. ^ "Pan-African Climate Change and Poverty Hearing". Oryx Media. October 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  9. ^ "A mind-shifting Mt. Everest swim". TED. August 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "Conference of cool". FT.com. July 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2010. 
  11. ^ Josh Catone (November 2009). "7 of the Most Inspiring Videos". Mashable. Retrieved 8 November 2009. 
  12. ^ Lewis Pugh (December 2013). "Lewis Pugh Speaking". Lewis Pugh's website. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Beyond Sport (July 2009). "2009 Winners". Beyond Sport. Retrieved 8 July 2009. 
  14. ^ "Council of Ambassadors". WWF-UK. January 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  15. ^ Gary Lemke (7 June 2010). "Going to the Extreme". Business Day. Retrieved 7 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Lewis Pugh (7 June 2013). "21 Yaks and a Speedo". Jonathan Ball Publishing. 
  17. ^ "Lewis Pugh swims the North Pole". TED. September 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  18. ^ Caroline Drees (6 September 2008). "Explorer kayaks to 1,000 km from N.Pole". Reuters. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  19. ^ Alan Duke (27 June 2008). "North Pole Could Be Ice-Free This Summer, Scientists Say". CNN. Retrieved 19 September 2008. 
  20. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (May 2010). "Achieving the Impossible. A Fearless Leader. A Fragile Earth". Simon & Schuster. 
  21. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (December 2009). "Forthcoming Expeditions". Lewis Gordon Pugh's website. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  22. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (May 2010). "Expeditions, Everest". Lewis Gordon Pugh's website. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  23. ^ "Show 3412". NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. July 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2007. 
  24. ^ Jon Stewart (July 2007). "Lewis Pugh". Comedy Central. Retrieved 31 July 2007. 
  25. ^ Mark Tutton (February 2009). "Lewis Pugh: The Human Polar Bear". CNN. Retrieved 25 February 2009. 
  26. ^ Bernard Goldberg (April 2006). "An Uncommon Man". HBO. Retrieved 11 April 2006. 
  27. ^ Robson Green (December 2009). "Wild Swimming". Robson Green's website. Retrieved 15 December 2009. 
  28. ^ The Big Issue (25 September to 24 October 2013, Issue 213, Vol 17). "Turning the Tide". The Big Issue. Retrieved 25 September 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  29. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (June 2009). "Book". Lewis Gordon Pugh's website. Retrieved 28 June 2009. 
  30. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (May 2013). "Book". Jonathan Ball Publishing. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  31. ^ Lewis Gordon Pugh (May 2013). "Book". Jonathan Ball Publishing. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  32. ^ Todd Pitock (29 October 2007). "The Ice Bear Cometh". Forbes. Retrieved 24 August 2008. 
  33. ^ The Daily News of Open Water Swimming (October 2012). "Lewis Pugh Honored by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame". The Daily News of Open Water Swimming. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  34. ^ Dr James Butcher Phd (December 2005). "Profile: Lewis Gordon Pugh – Polar Swimmer". The Lancet. Retrieved 1 December 2005. 
  35. ^ Professor Tim Noakes and Dr Jonathan Dugas et al (2009). "Body temperatures during three long-distance polar swims". Journal of Thermal Biology 2009, 34 (1) : 23–31. 
  36. ^ Andrew Berg (May 2006). "What It Takes: Lewis Gordon Pugh". National Geographic. Retrieved 19 September 2008. 
  37. ^ Duncan Graham-Rowe (February 2009). "Superhuman; The Secrets of the Ice Man". New Scientist. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 
  38. ^ The Daily News of Open Water Swimming (October 2012). "Lewis Pugh Honored by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame". The Daily News of Open Water Swimming. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  39. ^ Office of the President of South Africa (December 2009). "Presidency unveils National Orders recipients". The Presidency, Republic of South Africa. Retrieved 2 December 2009. [dead link]
  40. ^ Beyond Sport (July 2009). "2009 Winners". Beyond Sport. Retrieved 8 July 2009. 

External links[edit]