Lewis Pugh Visits Russia after Completing Record Swim Series
British endurance swimmer appeals to Russia to 'lead the world' in protecting the Ross Sea.
Renowned British endurance swimmer and United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, completed the final swim of his five swim challenge last month to champion the need for the conservation of the Ross Sea – and will now bring his own brand of 'speedo diplomacy' directly to the Kremlin.
Having set records for the most southerly swim in human history earlier in the expedition, Pugh concluded his challenge by swimming 500m in water with a temperature of 0°C off the coast of Peter I Island in the Bellinghausen Sea – one of 13 seas which surround Antarctica.
With the island named after the first Tsar and the sea named after Russia's most famous polar explorer, it was a poignant way to end the expedition. Russia chair the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and therefore hold the key to granting Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Antarctic Ocean.
Speaking on the need to appeal to Russia, Pugh said;
"Russia has a distinguished history in Antarctica. There are five Antarctic seas named after Russians, and nine Russian scientific bases in operation there. If anyone understands the beauty and the fragility of Antarctica, they do.
"The aim of the 5 swims campaign was to bring the beauty and fragility of Antarctica into the hearts and minds of people around the world. Over the next few months I will be shuttling between CCAMLR nations urging policy makers in those key nations to agree the MPA in the Ross Sea – and moreover to agree to a network of effective MPAs in Antarctica. My first port of call will be the Kremlin. Russia has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lead the world in preserving the waters around Antarctica. It would be a bold move, and it would send a positive, and peaceful, ripple around the globe."
Pugh has reason to feel optimistic ahead of his visit to The Kremlin as his efforts have captured the imagination of a nation – with constant media coverage in Russia following his expedition.
In scenes reminiscent of the 'ping pong diplomacy' of the 1970s, Pugh will be greeted in Russia by Slava Fetisov, one of Russia's greatest sporting heroes and former sports minister.
Speaking on the appeal of Lewis Pugh to Russia, Fetisov commented;
"Our nation and people have a long-standing love and appreciation of Antarctica and Lewis' extreme display of human endurance demonstrates that this is a love shared around the world. Now more than ever we must find common ground on the major issues facing the world and I look forward to welcoming Lewis to Moscow to discuss the future."
Speaking on completing his five swims challenge, Pugh added "The last swim was tough, especially given the limited recovery time after the bruising encounter in the Bay of Whales. I am exhausted and sailing home, but this is just the beginning – we have to influence the decision makers and Russia is crucial.
"There are those who will say that the world is entering a 'new Cold War'. They will argue that Russia is distracted by pressing conflicts closer to home. I say that there is no more pressing issue right now than the protection of our global resources. If we get this right, it could have wider, positive ramifications – beyond the oceans – for international relations."
Follow Lewis’s progress via his website, www.lewispugh.com Twitter @LewisPugh #5Swims and Facebook – Lewis Pugh.
For more information visit - www.lewispugh.com
Swim 1 - Campbell Island | 13 Feb
A long distance swim along Perseverance Harbour, a fjord in Campbell Island. The island, situated at 52º South, is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a large colony of Southern Royal Albatrosses and three penguins species – Eastern Rockhoppers, Erect-Crested and Yellow-Eyed Penguins.
Swim 2 - Cape Adare | 19 Feb
The first long distance swim around Cape Adare at 71º South. If successful, this swim will break the world record for the most southerly long distance swim ever undertaken. Cape Adare is the site of the first wintering by explorers on the Antarctic Continent. It's also home to the largest colony of Adélie penguins in the world. More than 250,000 pairs breed there.
Swim 3 - Cape Evans | 23 Feb (cancelled because of atrocious weather with gale force winds)
Cape Evans is situated at 77.6º South and is where Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the British explorer, built a hut before racing the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen to the South Pole in 1911. Tragically, Scott died on the journey back with 4 colleagues. Lewis will have the privilege of preparing to swim around Cape Evans, in this historic building, which is still much the same as it was left over 100 years ago.
Swim 4 - Bay of Whales | 28 Feb
This is the most southern swim possible (there is no open sea further south in the world) at the Bay of Whales at 78.5º South. This bay was named by explorer Sir Ernst Shackleton due to the large number of killer whales seen in the area.
Swim 5 - Peter I Island | 6 Mar
Lewis' final swim will be at Peter I Island, which is in the Bellingshausen Sea at 69º South. This volcanic island is surrounded by pack ice for most of the year and is home to three seal species (Crab-eater, Southern-elephant, and the formidable Leopard Seal), is a breeding ground for southern fulmars, and is visited by Adélie and Chinstrap penguins.