Lewis Pugh knows oceans. As an ocean advocate and a pioneer swimmer he’s been to the world’s most inaccessible places and he’s put his body through unimaginably difficult conditions.
He was born in Plymouth, and moved to South Africa with his family when he was 10 years old. His high school classroom overlooked the Atlantic Ocean; his first long-distance swim was from Robben Island to Cape Town when he was just 17.
Many more swims would follow, while Lewis studied law at the universities of Cape Town and Cambridge. In 2003, he left his maritime law practice to follow his dream: to protect the oceans.
He was the first person to complete a long distance swim in every ocean of the world. In 2007 he undertook the first swim across the North Pole to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice. And in 2010 he swam across a glacial lake on Mt Everest to draw attention to the melting glaciers in the Himalayas, and the impact the reduced water supply will have on world peace. To date, he has pioneered more swims around famous landmarks than any other person in history.
Lewis is a leading figure in efforts to protect the oceans. Millions have viewed his talks at TEDGlobal on protecting the oceans. His speech on leadership at the BIF Conference in Rhode Island was voted one of the “7 Most Inspiring Videos on the Web”.
He has received South Africa and France’s highest honours. In 2010, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader and in 2013, UNEP appointed him as Patron of the Oceans. The same year he was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
Lewis lives in Cape Town with his wife, 2 step-children and 3 dogs.