By: Kyle James | 01-06-2018 | News
Photo credit: skynews

Arctic Swimmer Lewis Pugh Tells How He Nearly Died In Sub-Zero Swim

Lewis Pugh is a man with nerves of steel, or perhaps of ice, with a level of control over his mind that allows him to exert his will over his body and force it to swim in freezing cold water.

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A documentary called Arctic Peril followed Pugh as he attempted a kilometer long swim along the Arctic ice edge in water that was -0.7 degrees. Here is what Pugh has to say about his incredible feat.

"When you swim in cold water you can’t just dip your toe in because it’s so painful you would never get in. So I just dived 100% and went for it. The first thought that struck me was "Woah, you've got this completely wrong!"

The sun was beaming straight into my face and I couldn't see Karl in the safety kayak. It was very disorientating and it was difficult to see where I was going.

The cold soon gripped me. First, my hands froze, then my forearms. My arms became uncoordinated and my legs scissored all over the place. I just wasn’t in control.

At 650m I stopped and said to Karl: "Let's stop this thing." But the support boat was full of water and needed to turn to empty it, and I had the choice of treading water or swimming. So I thought let’s just go for it and I put my head down.

In retrospect, it was probably a very bad decision. I've never come so close to the end, of that I am certain. By the last 300m, my tongue had frozen and I was struggling.

With a frozen tongue you can't expel water, so with every breath, I was swallowing water and it was really scary. If I'd been in there another 30 seconds to a minute I'd have gone down to the bottom.

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Twenty-two minutes had passed by the end of the kilometer and I was so cold, I didn't have the strength to pull myself into the boat. My support team was trying to grab me, but I was slipping out of their arms.

There was a moment of panic. Somehow they got me into the boat and lay me down. But I was not out of danger yet. My core body temperature was dropping all the time and they needed to get me into a hot shower fast.

I remember in the shower my assistant couldn't even put her hand in the water because it was so hot, but I was saying "turn it up, turn it up" because I was that cold.

I was in that hot shower for 50 minutes and then wrapped up in a bed and I was still shaking violently an hour and a half later. To come so close to the edge, it does shake you.

I do this because I love the Arctic. It is very wrong for us to be living our lives in such a way that we are driving animals, which have lived there for thousands of years, to the age of extinction.

You open up a newspaper and you see all the issues of the day, from Brexit to ISIS to poverty to health care. All these issues are very important.

But nothing comes close to what is happening in the Arctic because it will impact every single person, every future generation, and the whole of the animal kingdom.

We met scientists who are predicting that there will be no sea ice in the Arctic in the summer months in just 12 years’ time. The speed at which political decisions and business decisions are being taken is being outstripped by what's actually happening in the Arctic.

I would urge people to do everything they can in their personal capacity to protect the Arctic, by making sure that their MP knows how strongly they feel about protecting the oceans.

Then they should ensure every single purchase they make, whether it be food, energy, transport, is made with the impact on the environment in mind. Sometimes we are able to rally ourselves. I’m really hoping we’ll be able to do it this time."

<i>On Twitter:</i>

<a href="">@ErvinProduction</a>

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1 Comment/s
Anonymous No. 15463 2018-01-07 : 12:50

Should have left him in for another minute.

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