Lewis finishes the Long Swim

07th September, 2018

Just 1,800 people have swum across the English Channel. But until this week, no one had ever swum its entire length.

But on 29th August 2018, endurance swimmer and environmental campaigner Lewis Pugh succeeded in his dream to become the first person to swim the full length of the English Channel, from Land’s End to Dover, in just his cap, goggles and Speedo swimming trunks. The 560 km distance is equivalent to 16 English Channel crossings. He estimated that it would take him 50 days, depending on tides and weather, and in the end it took him 49.

He finished on Shakespeare Beach, Margate, to a crowd and a robust discussion with Michael Gove, in his Speedos. “I experienced what felt like every possible human emotion all at the same time – I was jubilant, I was exhausted, I was overwhelmed with pride for what we had achieved. I threw my arms up in the air and cheered with the crowds,” he said in his blog.

What is he hoping to encourage as a result of his swim? For more people to stop using plastic straws or bags, to start looking for sustainable fish, to help with a beach clean, or spend a few extra moments considering the health of our oceans and change their behaviour to help.

After the swim he commented: “I would like a nice long rest and a very good sleep but very soon I head off to the G7 summit, where protecting oceans will be top of the agenda, and we’ve got the High Seas Convention where all the nations of the world are coming together to discuss how we can protect the oceans beyond our jurisdiction”.

Lewis started undertaking long distance swims, including the freezing waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, 30 years ago, to highlight the environmental challenge this generation faces in protecting them from global water and plastic pollution. His ‘harsh truth’ is that we are destroying our home.

“I’ve been swimming in our oceans for over 30 years, and the changes I’ve seen have been horrifying. I began swimming in vulnerable ecosystems to draw attention to the impact of our actions on our oceans. I saw enormous chunks of ice slide off Arctic glaciers. I swam over bleached coral killed by rising sea temperatures, and over the bones of whales hunted to the edge of extinction. I saw plastic pollution in the most remote parts of the oceans, and garbage piling up so thick on city beaches that you could no longer see the sand.”

The swim is part of the worldwide Action for Oceans campaign, which calls on governments to fully protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. As well as raising awareness about ocean health, Pugh’s swim sought to highlight the positive impact marine conservation zones have on marine life.

The OSS offers Lewis huge congratulations on his monumental achievement, and sincere thanks for helping protect our oceans.

  • Read the full blog of the 49-day swim here.
  • Read more about Lewis’s environmental campaign on his website: www.lewispugh.com