Man tells of Antarctica swim ‘pain’

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Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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British endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh has said he has “never felt pain like it” after swimming in freezing temperatures around icebergs in Antarctica.

Mr Pugh has completed the most southerly swim ever undertaken in the world, wearing just Speedos in water temperatures of minus 1.7C (29F), as part of a series of five swims to raise awareness of the need for a vast protected area in the Antarctic’s Ross Sea.

His first swim off Campbell Island between New Zealand and Antarctica had to be cut short after he was charged by a sealion.

But the second swim around Cape Adare, home to the largest Adelie penguin colony on Earth, has been completed – breaking the world record, which was already held by Mr Pugh, for the most southerly swim.

If successful, the next two swims, around Cape Evans where Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s hut is situated, and then the Bay of Whales, named by Sir Ernest Shackleton due to the large number of killer whales seen there, will each break the record again.

After coming out of the sea, where the salt water was as cold as it can be without freezing, Mr Pugh required a 50-minute hot shower to warm his core body temperature.

He said: “It was an exceptionally tough swim, especially as I had to navigate around sharp ice and couldn’t just keep my head down and swim.

“My fingers were in absolute agony from around the 300 metre mark – I’ve never felt pain like it before.”

But he said: “I’m obviously delighted with the accomplishment and am looking forward to trying to beat this record in the next three weeks at Cape Evans and then the Bay of Whales. I want to thank my support team for keeping me safe.

“Now the only thing warming me up is the thought that my actions can encourage world leaders to come together and preserve this wonderful and important part of the world.”

Mr Pugh, who has also swum in the Arctic, in a lake on Everest and in the Seven Seas of Europe and the Middle East, wants to see a vast protected area established in the Antarctic’s “pristine” Ross Sea, with damaging activities such as fishing banned.

The swimmer hopes his swims will encourage the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), 24 countries and the EU responsible for creating marine protected areas in the region, to give the sea protection.

If it went ahead, it would be the biggest protected area on Earth and larger than the UK, Germany and France put together, helping protect marine life including fish, seabirds, whales and penguins.

Mr Pugh is calling on the countries in CCAMLR, which is currently chaired by Russia, to save the Ross Sea in the same way they came together to protect the land area of Antarctica at the height of the Cold War.

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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