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Image of Lewis Pugh will swim across the mouth of the world's fastest-moving glacier. Picture: Kevin Trautman
Lewis Pugh will swim across the mouth of the world's fastest-moving glacier. Picture: Kevin Trautman

Alum Lewis Pugh to take on 'toughest swim of his life'

College alumnus Lewis Pugh (1999) is days away from his biggest challenge yet— a 10km swim in Arctic waters.

Lewis, who is UN Patron of the Oceans, will push himself to the limit as part of his campaign to highlight the devastating speed of climate change. 

He will tackle the10km mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland over the course of two weeks starting on August 25. 

A heritage site, it is the world's fastest-moving glacier - shifting an average of 30m per day and calving over 30 cubic km of ice into the sea every year. The water will be near freezing, and the wind chill could plummet temperatures deep into negative numbers.

Lewis is preparing by swimming in colder and colder water each day in Iceland before travelling on to Greenland for the final days of training.

Dubbed the 'human polar bear', Lewis was appointed as the first Patron of the Oceans by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2013. He is an ocean advocate, a maritime lawyer and an endurance swimmer. He was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world, and frequently swims in vulnerable ecosystems to campaign for the creation of Marine Protected Areas - the equivalent of National Parks in the sea. 

He described his latest challenge as his toughest yet "without a shadow of a doubt".

He told Sky News' Kay Burley: "The thing is with cold water swimming is, unlike most sports where the more you do it the better you are, with cold water swimming it's the complete opposite and that's because when you have been realy, really, really cold you don't forget it. The next time you get into the water you have to get rid of all of those memeories which I still have in my bones."

He added: "What happens in the Arctic will determine the future of our planet and everything that lives on it. The polar regions are feeling the effects of the climate crisis more dramatically than anywhere else on Earth. If temperatures continue to increase, the polar ice caps will melt and sea levels will rise. Unless we take urgent action to decrease global temperatures by seriously lowering our global CO2 emissions, low-lying islands and coastal cities will, quite literally, drown. The devastation of the natural world will affect every single person, every future generation and every creature, great and small, on this planet.’

Following the swim, Pugh will travel to London to meet with key leaders before attending climate conference COP26 in November in Glasgow. Pugh is also calling for 30 per cent of the world's oceans to be protected to slow the effects of climate change.

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