Lewis Pugh, a British-South African endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, hopes to become the first person in history to swim across the Red Sea later this month.
The 160-kilometer swim from Saudi Arabia to Hurghada, Egypt, is expected to take him two weeks. Lewis will swim about 10 kilometres per day.
Pugh, who was born in the United Kingdom but educated in South Africa at St Andrew’s College, Camps Bay High School, and the University of Cape Town, swam to Robben Island when he was 17 years old.
The 52-year-old uses his world-record-breaking endurance swims to raise awareness of the ocean’s plight, particularly the dangers of pollution and overfishing.
The swim will highlight the vulnerability of coral reefs due to the accelerating Climate Crisis, and Pugh will pass through Sharm el-Sheikh, where world leaders will gather in November for the UN Climate Conference (COP27).
He will not only be swimming over some of the world’s most valuable coral, but also across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes leading to the Suez Canal.
Pugh will call on all nations to drastically reduce their emissions in order to address the climate crisis and protect the world’s oceans. He will also call for the protection of 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Pugh is known for swimming in some of the world’s coldest waters, but this time he’ll be swimming in some of the world’s warmest.
“I’ve been swimming in the world’s oceans for 35 years and have witnessed dramatic changes,” Pugh says.
“The most dramatic changes I’ve observed are in the Polar Regions and coral reefs.” Rising temperatures have an impact on both: the poles are melting and coral is dying.
“The Ground Zeros of the Climate Crisis are ice and coral.” These changes are taking place right in front of our eyes, and they are unmistakable proof of global warming.”
Scientists warn that if our planet warms by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, we will lose 70% of the world’s coral reefs.
If we raise the temperature by 2°C, 99% of coral reefs will perish. We are currently on track for an increase of at least 2.2°C.