Man becomes first to swim at North Pole

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lewis Gordon Pugh, 37, a man from the United Kingdom has become the first person to swim at the North pole. The water, 29 degrees F (-1.8 C), is believed to be the coldest waters any human has ever swam in on the planet.

"I am obviously ecstatic to have succeeded but this swim is a triumph and a tragedy. A triumph that I could swim in such ferocious conditions, but a tragedy that it's possible to swim at the North Pole," said Pugh who swam 0.6 miles in just under 19 minutes through cracks in icebergs.

Pugh says he swam at the North Pole to demonstrate the effects that global warming is playing on the Earth and is hoping that his act will gain the attention of leaders from around the world.

"The decisions which they make over the next few years will determine the biodiversity of our world. I want my children, and their children, to know that polar bears are still living in the Arctic — these creatures are on the front line up here," added Pugh.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which sponsored the swim, states that the only reason Pugh was able to swim in the freezing waters was due to global warming.

"[The swim was] a bittersweet victory, as this swim has only been possible because of climate change," said WWF U.K. spokesman, Colin Butfield. The waters were completely frozen ten years ago and the swim would have been impossible to complete.

Pugh has also swum in the waters of Antarctica where he was credited to being the only person to swim so far south earning him the nickname "The Polar Bear." Pugh also swam the Indian Ocean.

"It was frightening. The pain was immediate and felt like my body was on fire. I was in excruciating pain from beginning to end and I nearly quit on a few occasions. It was without doubt the hardest swim of my life," added Pugh.