On Thursday 12th July, endurance swimmer, campaigner and keynote speaker Lewis Pugh donned his signature Speedos, goggles and hat, and embarked upon his most gruelling challenge yet.
As we speak, Lewis is swimming not the width, but the length of the treacherous English Channel (Land’s End to Dover), and he’ll be covering a mammoth total distance of 560km, or 350 miles. To put that into perspective: around 1,800 people have swum from Great Britain to France, but Lewis will be the first to take the ‘scenic route’, which is the equivalent of 16 channel crossings. To top it off, he’s aiming to do it in a mere fifty days.
Lewis is embarking on such an arduous journey to campaign for the long-overdue protection of our waters. The UK has 750,000km of ocean surrounding its shores, but only 7 square kilometres are currently classified as Marine Protected Areas, which Lewis describes as “woefully inadequate”. With his swim, he is urging the government to set up a series of protected areas where there can be no oil and gas drilling, no commercial fishing and no gunnery practice – areas where nature is allowed to be left alone to restore itself. His overall goal is to get 30% of the worlds’ oceans protected by 2030.
Clearly Lewis has undertaken more than one awe-inspiring challenge during his swim, but none of it would be possible without his dedicated support team. A crew of eight people sail beside him on their ship, Aquila, and will be there with him every stroke of the way. Following Lewis’ fascinating daily blog, it is evident that his team play an integral role in his success. From singing sea shanties to boost morale, to frantically working together to avoid Lewis swimming into waters being used by German warships for firing practice, the group demonstrate their unparalleled ability to perform in an incredibly stressful and high consequence environment.
Swimming for approximately five hours (and at least six miles) a day, he is currently on course for Weymouth, Dorset, but still has a way to go. The White Cliffs of Dover are his Everest, and considering that more people have summited the world’s highest mountain than have swam even from Dover to Calais, this could certainly be considered the peak of human achievement. We have every confidence that Lewis will once again stretch the limits of the human body in order to accomplish his astounding goal. His experience undeniably solidifies him as one of the most exciting, inspiring and thought-provoking keynote speakers on the circuit.