Lewis Pugh was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world.
Over a period of 30 years he has pioneered swims in the most challenging environments on earth and developed an understanding of the beauty and fragility of life and its many ecosystems.
In 2007 he undertook the first long-distance swim across the North Pole, wearing just Speedo swimming trunks, 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. Most recently he became the first person the swim the 528km length of the English Channel.
Lewis’s driving purpose is to protect our oceans.
In 2016 he played a pivotal role in creating the largest marine reserve in the world in the Ross Sea off Antarctica. The media coined the term “Speedo Diplomacy” to describe his efforts swimming in the icy waters of Antarctica and shutting between the USA and Russia to help negotiate the final agreement.
Lewis is a vivid storyteller. He talks about the methods he uses to undertake swims, which were deemed “impossible” - choosing the right team, meticulous preparation, the right mind-set, never quitting, and changing when circumstances dictate. TED describe him as a “master story-teller” and his speech at the 2008 Business Innovation Forum in Rhode Island was voted as one of the “7 Most Inspiring Speeches on the Web”.
Lewis has received many awards for his work. In 2010 he was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2013 he was chosen to be the first UN Patron of the Oceans. And last year he was appointed an Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Cape Town.
Lewis is the only person to have completed a long distance swim in every ocean of the world. To date he has pioneered more swims around famous landmarks than any other swimmer in history. Each of these seemingly impossible feats was done to raise awareness about the vulnerability of our oceans and their importance to humanity. And he’s not finished yet.
Lewis is a vivid storyteller. His address on leadership at the Business Innovation Forum in Rhode Island was voted as one of the “7 Most Inspiring Videos on the Web”.
Over 7 million people have viewed his TED talks, and countless others have followed him on BBC, Good Morning America, CNN, Jon Stewart, National Geographic, Sky News, Al Jazeera, Jay Leno and more. His autobiography “Achieving the Impossible” is a Bestseller and was chosen for Oprah’s Exclusive Book List.
Lewis has received a number of awards including France and South Africa’s highest honours, as well as the Freedom of the City of London. In 2010, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader for his “potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world through inspiring leadership” and in 2013 the United Nations Environment Programme appointed him “Patron of the Oceans.”
Lewis’s ability to make his story matter has made him one of the world’s leading inspirational speakers.
On their 125th anniversary, Coca-Cola asked Lewis to address their world-wide leadership team. When Unilever decided to double their business and halve their environmental footprint, they chose Lewis to motivate their management team. And when Lloyd’s Agency Network turned 200 years old, they asked Lewis to help them visualize their future in an increasingly unpredictable world.
And earlier this year he addressed the world’s business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
As an ocean advocate, pioneer swimmer and explorer, Lewis puts his hard-learned lessons into the context of a corporate environment. He shares the visualization that enabled him to undertake the first swim across the sub-zero waters of the North Pole.
And he shares the “radical tactical shift” that he used to complete the first swim across a glacial lake on Mt Everest. Most importantly, he inspires people to reach for the dream of achieving their own impossible.
What are the qualities that make Lewis Pugh one of the world’s leading inspirational speakers? What is it about his talks that bring audiences to their feet? What is it about him that captured the imaginations of world leaders like Bill Clinton, Ted Turner and Desmond Tutu?
Lewis goes to extremes. He’s been to the world’s most inaccessible places. He’s put his body through unimaginably difficult conditions. He’s learned how to harness the energy that comes from overcoming extraordinary odds. And he knows how to inspire audiences to rise to their own internal challenges. His talks make a difference, to individuals, and to organizations.
His dream is that they will make a difference to the world.