Lewis Pugh completes Antarctic swim for climate change

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 27 January 2020

On 23 January, in his latest act of ‘Speedo diplomacy’, British-South African endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh completed a historic swim under the melting East Antarctic ice sheet.

Pugh embarked on his Antarctica 2020 expedition to create awareness about climate change and rouse global leaders into action on the environmental crisis.

‘It may seem shocking that someone would be able to swim in a river that runs under the ice sheet, but that’s the point. Antarctica is melting,’ Pugh said in a caption that accompanied a photo of a glacial river.

Image by Kelvin Traut via @LewisPughOceans

Wearing only his Speedo trunks, a swimming cap and goggles, Pugh undertook a 10-minute swim in waters just over 0°C under the melting East Antarctic ice sheet to call for the creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around Antarctica. An experienced and intrepid swimmer, Pugh is urging world leaders to take climate change seriously and take action ahead of the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow in November later this year.

‘I swam here in East Antarctica to bring you this message: Having witnessed the rapid melting in this region, I have no doubt whatsoever that we are now facing a climate emergency,’ Pugh announced after completing his swim. ‘At #COP26, world leaders need to step up or step aside. Time is running out.’

According to the Lewis Pugh Foundation, the swimmer is now headed to Moscow for the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica, where he’ll also meet with political leaders.

‘I never thought I’d say this,’ the swimmer joked on social media, ‘but after East Antarctica, I’m so looking forward to getting to Moscow to warm up again!’

Lewis Pugh is the only person to have completed a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world. In 2013, he was appointed by the United Nations as the first Patron of the Oceans.

To date, Antarctica 2020 has been Pugh’s most perilous swim.

Here some of the images of Lewis’s journey as shared on Facebook:

Image by Kelvin Traut via @LewisPughOceans

Image by Kelvin Traut via @LewisPughOceans

Image by Kelvin Traut via @LewisPughOceans

Image by Kelvin Traut via @LewisPughOceans

Image by Kelvin Traut via @LewisPughOceans

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