Lewis Pugh – Ocean Advocate

In his lifetime Lewis Pugh has embarked on more ecological demonstrations around global landmarks than any other individual. His 30×30 campaign aims to fully protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 thereby working toward a peaceful and sustainable future.

Last week Pugh gained US attention by swimming the 315 miles of The Hudson River extending from the Adirondack mountains to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.  “50 years ago, the Hudson was one of the most polluted rivers in the whole world and a swim like this would have been absolutely impossible,” Pugh informed the press. “This is the one river in the whole world which can send a message of hope to everybody that your river, whether it be in Britain, whether it be in France, India, China, that your river can one day be saved, that it can be cleaned up.” 

The Hudson River is only the latest body of water that the 53 year old athlete has undertaken. In 2018 he swam the English Channel in just under 15 hours. Instead of taking the 20.5 miles across from Southern England to northern France he spent 49 days traversing the channel’s 348 mile length. Pugh admitted “This was a once-in-a-lifetime type of swim. It was an immense swim … It’s been the toughest swim I’ve ever done by some distance.” Since then Pugh has attempted swimming the most difficult environments of the planet to communicate his message.

During the last 20 years Pugh has literally swam the seven seas: Arctic, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian, and Southern. His true purpose was to “urge policy makers to set aside 10 percent of their oceans as marine protected areas—essentially underwater national parks—to combat the damage humans continue to cause by overfishing, littering, and polluting waterways through shipping, dumping raw sewage, and poorly managing coastal development. Currently, only 3 percent of oceans are protected.

It is in his role as UN Environment’s Patron of the Oceans Seas campaign that this 53 year old swims. It is for the health of planet that Pugh risks his life in challenging situations.  It is reported that at the North Pole, the water was so cold – minus 1.7C – that the cells in his fingers burst and he was in pain for four months afterwards. According to Pugh his most distressing experience was what did not happen on these occasions.  He did not see a single shark, dolphin, or fish longer than his hand, which is a extremely poor indicator for the health of our oceans. 

“I do these things because I value and love life.
I’ve got no death wish. I want to swim until the
very last day of my life.” ~ Lewis Pugh


Lewis Pugh was born on a Friday in the zodiac sign of Sagittarius. His INNER SELF is ruled by Venus and Jupiter governs his OUTER Self. Individuals with the #69 FRI SAG Dayology Signature tend to be idealistic, principled and often younger looking than they actually are. As a planetary pair Venus and Jupiter are considered as capable of satisfying one’s desires.

It appears that Pugh has achieved many of his personal goals and now works to improve the world. At the age of 10 he emigrated from England to South Africa with his family. He read politics and law at the  University of Cape Town graduating at the top of his class. In his mid- twenties he returned to England to read international law at  Cambridge University. Then for a decade he practiced maritime law and served as a Reservist in the British SAS. Pugh currently holds the position of Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Cape Town.

It wasn’t until Pugh was 17 that he took his first serious swim lesson. One month later he swam from  Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned to Cape Town. “I was a young kid, as thin as you can imagine,” says Pugh. “And I barely made that swim, I was so cold.”  Over time Pugh has developed the ability to raise his core body temperature by nearly 2 °C in anticipation of entering freezing water. The scientific term given to this surprising and newly discovered phenomenon is “anticipatory thermo-genesis” (the creation of body heat before an event).

The Lewis Pugh Story

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