The 5-Minute Interview: Lewis Gordon Pugh

Long-distance swimmer and world record breaker
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The Independent Online

Lewis Gordon Pugh, 36, is the first person to have completed a long-distance swim in both the Arctic and Antarctic. During his swims, which both broke world records for the longest polar swim, he faced temperatures of between 2 and 3C - in his Speedo trunks.

Right now I am feeling...

Very, very happy. It took a lot of hard work, planning and preparation.

I would say the difficulty level...

On a scale of one to ten was 100! The swim at Deception Island was by far the hardest swim I've ever done. Antarctica is a very unforgiving environment. If you don't train properly you'll die.

I first found out I was able to take the cold...

About two years ago. I saw the sports scientist Professor Noakes. He confirmed my core body temperature is a lot higher then other people. Normal temperature is 37C, but mine is 38.4C. It doesn't sound like a difference, but it is enormous.

If I wasn't talking to you right now I'd be...

Going for a walk along the beach. I happen to be in Cape Town.

I wish people would take more notice of...

What British mountaineers and explorers are doing. At the moment there are a lot of British people doing outstanding things in the polar regions. Britain has bred many great explorers, but they seem to get so little coverage compared to soccer and rugby players.

The most surprising thing that ever happened to me was...

The world interestin the Antarctic swim compared with the Arctic swim [in August]. It must be to do with the romance of the heroic age of exploration - Shackleton, Captain Scott and Amundsen [his Antarctic swim was on the anniversary of Norwegian explorer Amundsen reaching the South Pole]...

A common misperception of me is...

That I enjoy the cold. I get cold just like anyone else.

I'm not a politician but...

I wish politicians would put the environment at the centre of every agenda. On my second swim at Deception Island the water was very clear and I was looking at hundreds of whale bones beneath me. It was a graveyard from the whaling some time in the 1920s-30s.

I'm very bad at...

Maths.

The ideal night out is...

In a town called Tromso in north Norway in a hot tub in the middle of winter looking at the Northern Lights.

In moments of weakness I...

I try not to get into them.

The best age to be is...

Seventeen. You can take any direction you want then.

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