Lewis Pugh

Ocean Advocate and Pioneer Swimmer

Lewis was born in England, and moved to South Africa with his family when he was 10 years old. His high school classroom overlooked the Atlantic Ocean; his first long-distance swim was from Robben Island to Cape Town when he was just 17.

Many more swims would follow, while Lewis read law at the University of Cambridge and practiced maritime law in London.

In 2003 he become a full time ocean advocate. He now frequently swims across vulnerable ecosystems to draw attention to their plight. He is the only person to have completed a long distance swim in every ocean of the world, and has pioneered more swims around famous landmarks than any other swimmer in history.

Lewis is a leading figure in efforts to protect our oceans. In 2007 he undertook the first swim across the North Pole to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice. He followed this up with a swim across a glacial lake on Mt Everest to draw attention to the melting glaciers in the Himalayas, and the impact the reduced water supply will have on peace in the region.

In 2016 he helped negotiate the creation of the biggest protected area in the world in the Ross Sea off Antarctica. The negotiations required consensus among 25 countries, a number of which had long standing disputes with one another. The media dubbed his efforts as "Speedo diplomacy".

Lewis is one of the world’s leading inspirational speakers, with TED describing him as a “master story-teller”. His speech on leadership at the BIF Conference was voted one of the “7 Most Inspiring Speeches on the Web”.

In 2010 the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader. In 2013 the United Nations appointed him as Patron of the Oceans. And last year he was chosen as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year.