Endurance swimmer, environmental activist and Capetonian Lewis Pugh has left for Nepal to swim at an altitude of 5,300 metres in the freezing waters of a lake on the Khumbu Glacier on Mt Everest.   His most demanding physical challenge to date!!

Why?  Because it may not be there in the future!!   Yes and No!!!   To raise awareness about the importance of protecting the Himalayan glaciers which provide water to over 1 billion people – a sixth of the world’s population!!!  His swim aims to focus global attention on the impacts of Climate Change on these glaciers. 

Just as his extreme swim demonstrates huge personal courage, so to he wishes to urge politicians to find the courage to act against Climate Change.  His message is that we are up to the challenges that face us when we are genuinely committed.  Take action on the 22 May, the day of his swim, to reduce your carbon footprint and to grow awareness.  WE  CAN ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

In a career spanning over 20 years, Lewis Pugh, also called the human polar bear, has swam around many famous landmarks and in 2006  he became the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world. Widely regarded as the best cold-water swimmer in history, he was also the first person to undertake a long-distance swim in the frozen waters of the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Click here to see an inspiring videoclip of Lewis Pugh’s swim in the Arctic Circle and his message about the need to act against Climate Change. 

The Scenic South Website will be following the progress of Lewis’s Everest swim attempt and will keep you updated.  Keep watching this space!!!!

Sunday, May 16th, 2010


Endurance swimmer and environmental campaigner, Lewis Gordon Pugh, has been preparing for his most extreme challenge to date – to undertake a swim under the summit of Mount Everest, it was announced today (SUN). 

Pugh set off on his journey to the summit on May 5th and today undertook the first ever swim across Lake Imja (altitude 5,010 metres) in the Himalayas to draw attention to the melting on the Himalayan glaciers.  

Lewis Pugh completes practice swim at Lake Imja

Lewis Pugh completes practice swim at Lake Imja

Lake Imja, which was first seen around 1958, is now over 2 kilometres long.  In the background of the attached picture is the fourth highest mountain in the world – Mt Lhotse (altitude 8,501 metres).  

The swim at Lake Imja is part of Pugh’s extensive training and preparation for the most extreme swim he has ever attempted. He hopes to be the first person to swim under the summit of Mt Everest, across a glacial lake on Sunday, 23rd May.

The Pick n Pay/SAP Everest Challenge aims to continue to raise awareness of climate change and will see Pugh attempt to swim 1km next weekend – at an altitude of 5,300 metres across the freezing waters of a lake next to the Khumbu Glacier.

The expectation is that it will take him approximately 20 minutes and he will once again swim in just a pair of Speedo swimming trunks, a cap and goggles.

Lewis said: “The water is freezing. It’s incredibly cold here. We had to abandon an attempt yesterday but today I completed a shorter swim which has given me more confidence for next Sunday’s challenge.”

 Background information:

Lewis was the first person to swim across an open patch of sea at the Geographic North Pole in July 2007 to draw attention to the melting sea ice.  The 1km swim took 18 minutes and 50 seconds in freezing temperatures of minus 1.7 centigrade – the coldest water a human has ever swum in.

 In 2006, Lewis swam the entire length of the River Thames (350km), which had stopped flowing, to highlight the impact of the drought in the UK. 

 In February 2007 he swam across the width of the Maldives, a distance of some 87 miles, to raise awareness about the impact of rising sea level on the lowest islands in the world.

In 2010, he was appointed a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in recognition of his “commitment to society and the potential to contribute to shaping the world through inspiring leadership”.

Michelle Rolfe