Ocean ambassador swims under Antarctic ice sheet
24th January 2020
British endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, has just become the first person to swim under an Antarctic ice sheet - and he was dressed only in a pair of swimming trunks, a cap and goggles.
During Pugh's 10 minute 17 second swim, to raise awareness of the effects of climate change at the Earth's poles, he said he could see melt-water everywhere and faced the threat of the lake suddenly emptying through a crack in the ice. British scientists recently found more than 65,000 supraglacial lakes have appeared on surface of the East Antarctica ice sheet in the last three years and ocean temperatures have reached an all-time high.
Describing how he saw stalactites and "every shade of blue" whilst under the ice sheets he also said the swim was "the most beautiful and terrifying swim I've ever done ... mid-way I heard an almighty boom above me and thought my time had come. Luckily it was just the ice shifting."
"The swim was the accumulation of 33 years of training ..." said Lewis, "I swam here today as we are in a climate emergency. We need immediate action from all nations to protect our planet."
His past swims have already highlighted and helped safeguard areas of ocean, including The Ross Sea which was established as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2016. Lewis in now calling for a network of MPA's in the Southern Ocean around the continent and for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to take "urgent action" against global warming.
Lewis thanked the world-wide team from UK, France, Russia, Argentina, South Africa and Costa Rica which made this expedition possible and his sponsors, saying "To address the climate crisis we all need to work together - citizens, business, charities, civil society and governments." He also had a message for those attending COP26 in November in Glasgow, tweeting, "At COP26, world leaders need to step up or step aside. Time is running out."