The UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh has announced his latest polar expedition, designed to build a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around Antarctica.
In January 2020, Lewis Pugh will attempt to swim a stretch of water that no human has ever swum in before.
In his latest challenge, Lewis will attempt to swim 1km across a supra-glacial lake in East Antarctica to raise awareness of the impact of the Climate Emergency on the Polar Regions.
Supra-glacial lakes are formed as a direct result of ice melting on the surface of ice sheets, something that is happening at an alarming rate across both Antarctica and Greenland.
A recent survey of Antarctica found that over 65,000 supra-glacial lakes have appeared on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet in the past three years.
This coincides with recent data that show Antarctica lost the same amount of sea ice in the four years between 2014 and 2017 as the Arctic lost in the past 30 years.
‘We are living in a time of drastic change. There is a Climate Emergency and ice is melting at both ends of the Earth. Protecting the ocean is a simple and effective way to counter the destruction of climate change and nowhere on Earth needs this more than Antarctica.’
UN Patron of the Oceans
Swimming for marine protection
Lewis hopes that this swim will be a catalyst for the creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, one of the world’s last great ocean wildernesses.
The extreme conditions of East Antarctica will ensure that this will be the toughest swim of Lewis’s life. Lewis will be faced with ice-cold waters, a severe wind-chill factor and the threat of the lake suddenly emptying through a crack in the ice sheet.
Lewis will be supported in his latest endeavour by Slava Fetisov, the UN Patron of the Polar Regions and former captain of the Soviet Ice Hockey Team and two-time Olympic champion. After retiring from ice hockey, Slava went on to become the Russian Sports Minister and is now a senator in the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia.
Join the training camp
To prepare for this challenge, Lewis is about to embark on an extensive training camp in the waters off the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
Lewis’s training camp will involve swimming in both the sea and mountain lochs. The temperature of the sea is likely to be 5 degrees, and the temperature in the lochs is expected to be just above freezing.