Lewis Pugh was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world.
Over a period of 30 years he has pioneered swims in the most challenging environments on earth and developed an understanding of the beauty and fragility of life and its many ecosystems.
In 2007 Lewis Pugh undertook the first long-distance swim across the North Pole to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice. He followed this up with a swim across a glacial lake on Mt Everest to draw attention to the melting glaciers in the Himalayas. Last year he became the first person to swim the length of the English Channel.
Lewis’s driving purpose is to protect our oceans.
Since 2015 Lewis Pugh has played a pivotal role in protecting over 2.2 million square kilometres of vulnerable ocean – an area larger than western Europe. The media has coined the term “Speedo Diplomacy” to describe his swimming in vulnerable ecosystems and then negotiating with governments to set them aside as Marine Protected Areas. His dream is to fully protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Lewis talks about the methods he uses – a clear vision, choosing the right team, meticulous preparation, the right mind-set, never quitting, and changing when circumstances dictate. TED describe him as a “master story-teller”. In 2010 Lewis Pugh was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2013 the United Nations chose him as the first UN Patron of the Oceans. Most recently he was appointed an Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Cape Town.
After his Ross Sea swim in 2015, which led to the declaration of the biggest protected area in the world, he established the Lewis Pugh Foundation to campaign for Marine Protected Areas in all of our oceans. His dream is to have 30% of the world’s oceans properly protected by 2030.
In Jan 2020, he undertook the first swim under the East Antarctica ice-sheet to highlight the rapid melting taking place in this region to help create a network of Marine Protected Areas in the region.
Currently Lewis is undertaking the most challenging swim of his career. In August 2021 he will swim across the Ilulissat Icefjord, fed by the world’s fastest moving glacier, in Greenland. The swim is expected to take two weeks. No one has ever attempted a multi-day swim in the Polar Regions. Later in the year, Lewis will attend UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. He will use the story of his swim to impress upon world leaders the speed of the Climate Crisis and ask them to move beyond long-term commitments toward urgent action, today.
"You won’t find a more captivating story teller… Lewis stole the show at the World Economic Forum in Davos."
Professor, Wharton Business School
"Thank you for coming to speak to us. You have a very special gift. Not many people can speak to a group of world leaders like you did – with so much authority and passion. I could have heard a pin drop."
"Your address was the perfect close to a conference centered around achievement and moving to the next level. The story you have to tell is incredibly unique and was delivered in such a professional and entertaining manner. Everyone was inspired by your extraordinary journey."
CEO, Deutsche Bank (UK)
"Lewis Pugh doesn’t tell us what to do, he shows us what can be done."
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America
"Lewis Pugh gave the perfect TED talk: a little bit of action, some thinking outside the box, humbling words on the need to respect nature, a happy ending. A Hollywood scriptwriter could not have structured it better."
The Financial Times
"Thank you for such an inspirational and awe-inspiring speech at our 200th Anniversary celebration."
CEO, Lloyd's Insurance
"Lewis’s speech was riveting and passionate. He’s stunning!"
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate 1984
"Lewis tells a very inspiring and motivating story of achieving sporting excellence at it’s most extreme. I was blown away by it and at the same time saw real value in how we can all approach our challenges and reach our goals."
Former Head Coach, South African Cricket Team
"I cannot thank you enough for your speech at our Leadership Conference. It was absolutely remarkable and your message was a moving and emotional experience. The incredible scale of endeavour, the meticulous preparation, and the emotional magnitude, came through so crisply. Not only are your achievements so incredible and inspiring, but your ability to put them across in such a special way will no doubt have a lasting impact on our leadership team."
CEO, Discovery Holdings