Lewis Pugh - Swimming in Antarctica


Lewis Pugh prepares to dive into polar waters
Lewis Pugh, via Wikimedia

What would you do to protect someone or something you love? Liz Waid and Bruce Gulland tell about Lewis Pugh. He is swimming in freezing water to protect the environment.

Transcript


(Update from October 2016: 24 countries and the European Union have agreed to protect the Ross Sea. It is now the world's largest Marine Protected Area. Read about it on Lewis Pugh's website.)

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A man stands on the ice in Antarctica. He only wears small swimming shorts. He looks out at the black water of the Ross Sea. Large pieces of ice float in it. The temperature of the sea is minus one degree. The wind blows fiercely. The air temperature is minus 37 degrees. The man feels very cold. He dives into the sea and starts to swim.

Voice 2 

This brave man is Lewis Pugh. He has a special reason for swimming in Antarctica. Today’s Spotlight is on Lewis Pugh and his amazing swims in the Antarctic.

Voice 1 

Lewis Pugh is a British environmentalist. He works hard to protect the oceans of the world. One way he does this is by swimming! He goes on difficult swims around the world. People around the world read about and watch Pugh swim. This helps them learn more about the world’s oceans. It helps them understand the need to protect the ocean environment. For example, Pugh swam at the North Pole. This swim showed how Arctic sea ice was melting. Another time he swam in a lake on Mount Everest. This showed the effect of climate change in the Himalayas.

Voice 2 

Ocean water covers 70 percent of the earth. But human behaviour is having negative effects on the oceans. Ocean water is becoming dirty and polluted. Many kinds of fish and sea animals are dying off. The oceans of the world are in trouble. So in 2013 the United Nations named a helper for the oceans of the world. They gave Lewis Pugh the title ‘Patron of the Oceans’. In an announcement about Lewis Pugh, the United Nations Under Secretary General said,

Voice 3 

‘Humans are having an extreme effect on the environment and economy of oceans and seas. Lewis will carry a message to people across the world. The message can excite and influence people to act.’

Voice 1 

The Ross Sea in Antarctica is different. It is almost completely free of pollution. It contains many different animals and fish such as the Antarctic Toothfish, the Colossal Squid and the Emperor Penguin. Many of these animals and fish cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Pugh wants to protect this environment from damage by humans. He is trying to gain global support for the Ross Sea to become a Marine Protected Area. In a Marine Protected Area everyone has to follow environmentally friendly rules. So in 2015 Lewis Pugh planned to go on five swims in Antarctica. On his website, he said,

Voice 4 

‘Over the past 30 years I have seen the terrible effects of overfishing and climate change on our oceans. If we permit the same in the Ross Sea, its special riches may be lost forever. My hope is that these symbolic swims will bring the beauty and wonder of Antarctica into the hearts and homes of people around the world. I hope they will urge their governments to protect this rare ecosystem.’

Voice 2 

Pugh’s first Antarctic swim was near Campbell Island. He started to swim in the freezing water. But after 200 metres, a sea lion attacked him. He had to stop swimming. And his team pulled him out of the water to safety.

Voice 1 

His next swim was around Cape Adare. No sea lions stopped him this time! He completed a swim of 500 metres. The swim lasted ten minutes. But the water temperature was minus 1.7 degrees. Sea water cannot go any colder without freezing solid. So Pugh was extremely cold when he got out of the sea. He had to shower with hot water for 50 minutes to get warm. After the swim Pugh told journalists,

Voice 4 

‘It was a particularly hard swim. I had to look out for sharp ice. I could not just keep my head down and swim. My fingers were in extreme pain from around 300 metres. I have never felt pain like it before. Only one thing warmed me up. That was thinking that my acts can encourage world leaders to come together and protect this wonderful and important part of the world.’

Voice 2 

Pugh’s second swim was a great success. He even set a new world record. No-one had swum so far south before. However, Pugh had to cancel his third swim. His team could not launch his support boat. The wind was too strong.

Voice 1 

Pugh then travelled to the Bay of Whales in the Ross Sea for his fourth swim. This area has many dangerous killer whales. But Pugh successfully swam 350 metres in the freezing sea. In this swim he beat his own world record by swimming so far south. He later described this swim to the BBC World Service,

Voice 4 

‘I can only describe it as completely frightening. I remember my crew going out to see that there were no killer whales where I was going to swim. A wave broke over the boat which immediately froze over my crew. That is how cold it was. And to jump into water like that is frightening. It is very very difficult to breathe. You have got to concentrate. And you have got to swim as quickly as possible.’

Voice 2 

Four days later Pugh had his fifth and final swim. He swam 500 metres near the lonely Peter 1 Island. As he finished, two humpback whales came to the surface of the water near him. This made him joyful. And it reminded him of the reason for his dangerous swims.

Voice 1 

Pugh has finished his swims. But he has not yet reached his goal. He will now travel around the world. He wants to talk to the leaders of the countries responsible for creating Marine Protected Areas. He hopes to persuade them to agree that the Ross Sea should become a Marine Protected Area. But Pugh has an even larger aim too. He believes that protecting the environment also brings peace. He told the Independent newspaper that Desmond Tutu once spoke powerfully about this. Desmond Tutu told Pugh,

Voice 5 

"Lewis, when we damage our environment and do not protect our resources, we create conditions ripe for conflict. You are a peace campaigner. God bless you."

Voice 2 

These powerful words gave Pugh purpose. He will continue to work to protect the Ross Sea. He says,

Voice 4 

‘I pray that Antarctica can be a bridge for peace’

Voice 1 

The writer of this programme was Katy Blake. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this programme and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this programme again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called ‘Lewis Pugh - Swimming in Antarctica’.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight programme. Goodbye.

Copyright 2016 by SpotlightEnglish.com. All rights reserved. No portion of Spotlight audio, video, and/or scripts shall be used without express written permission.

Question:

What is the craziest thing you have ever done to help someone understand or know about something?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
PakaAnka
said on September 09, 2016

Hi friends.
that was an excellent story of sacrifice for an important reazon. I guess nobody could do that, but when we have a great reazon we can reach our goals.

Bye bye.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on September 09, 2016

I think that this very difficult message and I think that man is brave man and I hope that he can achieve his goals for humanity.
Personally I don’t have ever done the craziest thing to help someone understand or know about anything YET but I desire to do that.
God bless you

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on September 24, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Saturday 24, September 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Katy Blake, Bruce Gulland, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
I have respected everybody, animals and the environment. Although, there are many people who do not deserves our respect and regard but Jesus told us love each other like I loved you.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil