Lewis Pugh. (Photo: iStock)
World-renowned endurance swimmer, Lewis Pugh, is pushing the boundaries and stretching the human body and mind yet again, this time to swim the entire length of the English Channel.
Called 'The Long Swim', the 560 km-long swim starting in the United Kingdom’s Land’s End and finishing in Dover is expected to take about 50 days to complete, depending on tides and weather.
SEE: WOW! Incredible pic of Lewis Pugh setting most southerly swim record
The length of the swim, which has never been done before, is equivalent to 16 English Channel crossings.
Pugh, who is the only person to have completed a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world and the first person to swim across the North Pole, is set to begin this monumental swim on 12 July.
“During July and August 2018, I will attempt to swim the full length of the English Channel, from Land's End to Dover, in just my cap, goggles and Speedo swimming trunks,” says Pugh.
Watch this to find out how he plans on conquering The Long Swim:
To prepare for The Long Swim, he trained in Cape Town's cold waters, even when weather forecasts warned of 100km per hour winds.
"Courage is a muscle and unless you train it, you won't have it when you need it," says Pugh, adding "That was wild out there and it's absolutely fantastic training for when I get into the [English] Channel".
More than just an endurance swimmer, Pugh is an ocean activist and is taking on the challenge to highlight the plight of keeping oceans clean and safe for marine life.
The Long Swim marks the start of a worldwide campaign to ensure that 30% of the world’s oceans are fully protected by 2030.
In South Africa, campaigns such as Only This Much are also in place to get the ball rolling for an increase in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), after it was found that only 0.4% of SA's ocean regions are currently being protected.
MUST-SEE: #OnlyThisMuch: New alliance for greater care of SA's oceans pushes for 10% protection by 2020
“Every lifestyle decision we take, every purchase we make, has an impact on the kind of planet we want to live on. Our world needs clean and healthy seas. And we are the only ones who can make that happen,” says Pugh.
“We need to change the tide on plastic pollution by stopping the amount of plastic pouring into our oceans – and roll up our sleeves to help remove the junk that's already there,” he adds.
In SA, a few organisations have taken heed of this plight and started campaigns to minimise plastic use in an attempt to decrease plastic pollution in oceans.
In the Mother City, the V&A Waterfront launched a campaign together with its tenant Pick n Pay to reduce single-use plastic, by offering shoppers to swop single-use plastic bags for cardboard carry-boxes, 100% biodegradable bags or fabric bags. V&A Waterfront also implemented a 'plastic gobbling marine drone' known as a WasteShark, which will trawl the ocean surface picking up as much as 500kgs of ocean trash at a time.
ALSO SEE: V&A Waterfront goes big on recycling in celebration of International Plastic Bag Free Day
Pugh, who has been swimming the oceans for over 30 years, says that he swam in vulnerable ecosystems to highlight the impact of our actions on our oceans over the decades.
“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,” says Pugh.
ALSO SEE: PICS: Lewis Pugh’s #ArcticDecade campaign shows ‘runaway climate change ’
Pugh says that of the 750 000 square kilometres of seas around the UK, only 7 square kilometres are fully protected.
“I'm undertaking my toughest swim yet, so that I can call on the British Government, and all the governments of the world, to strengthen our ocean protection. Because doing the right thing has to start at home,” Pugh says.
MUST-SEE: SAB honours #ArcticDecade swimmer with top Environmentalist Award
When asked why he strongly advocates for greater ocean protection, Pugh says that “The oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface. We rely on them entirely for our survival – and the amazing creatures that live in them now rely on us for protection.”
Check out how the Twitterverse is celebrating and anticipating The Long Swim for greater ocean protection: