British endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh begins ‘coldest swim on Earth’ to highlight climate change

Lewis Pugh is a UN Patron of the Oceans and fights to raise awareness of the climate crisis

Samuel Webb
Friday 27 August 2021 10:09 BST
Lewis Pugh tackling 'coldest swim on Earth' to highlight climate crisis

A British endurance swimmer has begun what he describes as “the coldest swim on Earth” to highlight the climate crisis.

Lewis Pugh, from Plymouth, will swim across the 10-kilometre (six-mile) mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland, in front of the world’s fastest-moving glacier.

The 51-year-old is navigating near-freezing waters with a wind chill that can plummet temperatures to negative numbers to draw attention to the speed at which the planet’s ice is melting.

Despite previously swimming in Antarctica in 2017 and 2020, he describes this as his ‘most challenging’ attempt yet.

He tweeted: “After months of training and planning, the #ClimateSwim has begun. The water was much colder than expected, and the currents were stronger. I also encountered dangerous blocks of ice the size of suitcases that I needed to swim around.”

He added: “By the end of Day one, I hoped to have swam much further. In the morning I covered just 480m in 10 minutes.

“In the afternoon, 549m in the same time. But strong currents between the icebergs and 0°C water slowed me down. Tomorrow is another day.”

In January 2020 Pugh became the first person in recorded history to swim underneath an ice sheet in Antarctica – and he did it wearing only swimming trunks, a cap and goggles.

In 2007, he became the first person to complete a long-distance swim across the geographic North Pole. The 1km crawl across an open patch of sea was to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice.

He was also the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world.

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