Smile While You Swim – Lewis Pugh’s Heroic Achievement

 

“Sometimes we set boundaries for ourselves in life,
or even worse, we allow others to do so.
 In many cases, these boundaries are just
in our mind and need to be pushed away.” 

“Ordinary won’t change the world.”

Lewis Pugh

“O Euchari Leta Via” by Hildegarde von Bingen, arranged by Toni Castells featuring Rebecca Nelsen (courtesy of Toni Castells)

 

The latest research shows that due to pollution and human activity only 13 percent of the world’s seas can be called ‘the wilderness’. There is almost no marine wilderness because of fishing, a huge amount of plastic waste, the expansion of commercial shipping, and fertiliser run-off from the land. The lead author of a University of Queensland study, Kendall Jones, wrote: “We were astonished by just how little marine wilderness remains. The ocean is immense, covering over 70% of our planet, but we’ve managed to significantly impact almost all of this vast ecosystem.”

“The Ocean” by Oxygene (courtesy of Cape Tranquillity):

Another problem is also emerging – the massive use of medically-prescribed drugs that are finding their way into the environment as they pass through humans. Just in this country alone, 64.7 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were handed out in 2018. I won’t even chance a guess as to the global combined total of these prescriptions. These drugs stay in soil for many months, contaminating worms, flies and other food resources of birds, and seep into our water supplies. Apart from anti-depressants, there has been a rise in self-help books. Some of these advocate becoming more selfish, teaching how to say NO, others advise to plead with the universe for help. There is an epidemic of people complaining of loneliness. This is quite extraordinary in the twenty-first century.

“The Sound of Silence” by Paul Simon, played by Miloš Karadaglić and 12 Ensemble:

Philosophers across the millennia have been pondering what happiness is and how to be happy. One could think that by now it should be obvious to everybody, but as we don’t teach primary school children about this, the results are dire; a rise in the suicide rate, self-harming of children, and a rise in violent crime. Yet, it would be helpful to teach children that the only way to find true happiness is by doing something for others, a good deed every day. I have never heard anyone who is involved in any voluntary work complaining of being bored, lonely or depressed.  The book, ‘A Boy in the Water’ by Tom Gregory shows what can be achieved by one man. It is an account of ‘a remarkable bond between a coach and a boy, and an act of endurance that will shape and mark that boy for the rest of his life.’

“Hydrotherapy”, a short powerful film that tells a story of adaptation, strength and rewilding in the beautiful landscape of Snowdonia (courtesy of Friction Collective):

LewisPughIce6

“The Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre (courtesy of Elliott von Wendt):

One extraordinary man is highlighting the need to save the oceans. It is Lewis Pugh, 51, who swam the full length of the English Channel, from Land’s End to Dover, in 2018. Although he is an experienced endurance swimmer, this was an outstanding achievement. He coped with challenging conditions and jellyfish attacks by admiring the English coast: ‘one of the most beautiful in the world.’ He also smiles while he swims. How inspirational is this… A Japanese man, who became the world’s oldest male at 112 years and 344 days, has said the secret to a long life is to ‘keep smiling and don’t get angry.’ Sound advice from two extraordinary people that we should follow. Last year Lewis accomplished another challenge, never attempted by anyone before – to swim across the lake under the melting Antarctic ice sheet.

A set of amazing photographs shows him swimming in the electric-blue water of the underground lake.

LewisPughIce2

He swam under the largest ice mass in the world for 8 minutes, with the temperature close to freezing point. Speaking from his tent in East Antarctica, he said that being under the ice sheet was the most beautiful place on earth. It is vast. It is beautiful. But everywhere we look we are seeing melting water. It was a shade of royal blue. It turned turquoise, and then indigo, psychedelic blue, then turning violet.

LewisPughIce3 He faced the constant threat of being swallowed up by the lake. At any time a large hole, known as moulin, could open up, with Lewis plummeting hundreds of metres to the continent’s bedrock.  He did it as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the climate crisis at the poles and is calling for the creation of a network of marine protected areas. Speaking of the real dangers that faced him, he said: ‘I was quite relieved to see my team at the end. This is a high-consequence environment to swim in. It took me 33 years of training to swim those eight minutes, and a team of incredible French mountaineers to get me in and out of the tunnel safely.’

LewisPughIce7

Lewis Pugh has been described as the ‘Sir Edmund Hillary of swimming’ and was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world. In 2007 he became the first person to complete a long-distance swim across the Geographic North Pole. The 1km crawl across an open patch of sea was to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice. Lewis is the first person ever to swim across an entire lake formed in a melting ice cap.

LewisPughIce5

A time-lapse film of Arctic Melt from Nature’s Great Events:

This month Lewis completed the most challenging swim of his career and became the first person to complete a multi-day swim in the Polar Regions, when he swam across the Ilulissat Icefjord, fed by the world’s fastest-moving glacier, in Greenland. The 7.8 km swim was completed in 14 sessions over 12 days. Later in the year, Lewis will attend the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. He will use the story of his swim to impress upon world leaders the speed of the Climate Crisis. He will ask them to move beyond long-term commitments toward urgent action, today.

How melting Arctic ice could cause uncontrollable climate change:

Lewis Pugh is a remarkable man and proof that mind over matter is helpful in achieving our goals.

 

“Elegy for the Arctic” by Ludovico Einaudi:

Counting our blessings each and every day also averts feelings of loneliness and being dissatisfied with life. Dwelling on any real or perceived problems often leads to the worst thing happening, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I have to come back to land pollution which affects the ocean too. In the USA, hundreds of people with cancer pursued a legal claim against Monsanto, the makers of the world’s most popular weedkiller, Roundup. It is alleged that this weedkiller used in gardens, parks and on food crops farms is potentially a cause of cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Yet, it was proclaimed to be safe in the USA and the EU. After it was found that its ingredient glyphosate can cause cancer in humans, the claims snowballed. I already wrote a few times that my garden is organic and that I only buy organic products, but like-minded people cannot stop poisoning of the rivers and the oceans if the practice of spraying crops is not removed.  Rachel Carson warned about the dangers of pesticides decades ago and yet we are still using chemical contaminants to our peril. Here we have some visionary people who have turned their land into natural meadows and make their, good by all accounts, living by providing very much in demand organic produce.

Meadow6

I can only conclude that happiness is easily found by simply not gazing at our navel, nor over-analysing our feelings, nor obsessing about our social media profiles, but by doing something, however small, for somebody else. Kirk Douglas, who died at age 103, was quoted to have found a solution to the depression he suffered earlier in life. He devoted himself to helping others, and not thinking about himself. It worked for him, and it would work for anyone equally well.  I am going to write again about one of many ways of achieving life-long fulfillment and happiness, without ever having to take any stimulants or antidepressants, the poison of our time.

PhotoScan (2)

“Pale Grass Blue” by Enya (courtesy of Snuli50)

 

And for those that are tempted to dip a toe in the water, a variety of different inspirations!

Courtesy of Alexandra Reuter:

 

“Chasing the Sublime” (courtesy of teamBMC):

 

“One Breath Around The World” (courtesy of Guillame Néry):

 

“The Humming” by Enya:

 

 

 

45 thoughts on “Smile While You Swim – Lewis Pugh’s Heroic Achievement

  1. Lewis Pugh is remarkable. I can’t even begin to imagine the strength and willpower it took him to swim through those icy waters.

    Gratitude is so very important in all of our lives.

    Amazing post Joanna! 👏❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Karlien09, yes, Lewis Pugh wanted to draw attention to climate change and he is right to do so!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The sounds of silence rendition was divine

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Ananda, for your kind comment. I am glad you liked music.

    Joanna

    Like

  6. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  7. Beautiful pictures. Nice willpower have you swing in ice. I like.

    Like

  8. Thank you, rajkkhoja, for you kind comment. Yes, one needs a lot of stamina to swim under the ice,

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The inspiring quote by Lewis Pugh set the tone for this beautiful post. Ordinary won’t change the world. It’s so true. It takes 33 years of training to swim under the ice for just 8 minutes.

    Whether it’s the issue of contamination or pollution, or the epidemic of loneliness and selfishness, it shows how hypocrites we are. We preach, but don’t practise. Double standard has become the norm.

    Agriculture without fertilisers and pesticides, milking cows and buffaloes without injecting oxytocin, and colouring and treating vegetables without chemicals are unimaginable, at least in India. That’s precisely the reason why cancer and other life-threatening diseases are on the rise, despite using RO water filter and air purifier.

    I’m glad, Joanna that you have everything organic in your garden. I also liked the reference to Japanese man and the secret of long life, i.e. keep smiling and don’t get angry. It reminded me of Japanese concept of ikigai that talks of reason for being, which has been beautifully summed up by you by laying emphasis on helping others, that I’m sure, will not only fight diseases like depression, but most of the ills of society.

    Another gem from you, Joanna with so many beautiful videos. Now I go though videos first. Thank you so much.

    Like

  11. Thank you, Kaushal, for your wonderful analysis of my post. You are right about organic grown fruit, I don’t need to wash them! Also ,helping others is a must, and works for everyone, even young children. Your comments make me happy always!!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s always my pleasure to go through informative and interesting posts of yours. Thanks again!

    Like

  14. You’re always welcome!

    Like

  15. Wise advice, Joanna. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of these great men. 🌞

    Like

  16. Thank you, Lisa, for your kind comment.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wonderful post raising awareness Joanna! Another gift from you so well composed. 💖

    Like

  19. Thank you, Cindy, for your wonderful comments on three posts!! The climate change is a real danger not only to us but our children and their children.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for sharing such an amazing post Joanna and highlighting the importance of saving our planet.

    Like

  22. Thank you, Henrietta, for your generous comment! Lewis Pugh has done a good job, and I think we will all follow in our small ways.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What an interesting person. He must be in great physical shape to swim the length of the English Channel. And… under icecaps! Wow! Not for the faint of heart for sure. Great post Joanna.

    Like

  24. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Pleasure always 💖

    Like

  26. I’m touched by your heartfelt posts and care of our world. It is so true and we will continue to ban together.. 💖💖💖 xo

    Like

  27. I love this post, Joanna. Little acts of kindness go a long way. 💜💜🌹🙏

    Like

  28. Thank you, Diana, for your kind comment. Yes, agreed, kindness is important.

    Joanna

    Like

  29. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  30. Such a beautifully constructed write-up, really inspiring. I hope you write more and more of these articles. Looking forward to read such stuff soon. Best in Class.

    Like

  31. Thank you, Sebastian, for your wonderful comments! I do intend to keep on writing more, as we do need inspiration every day!

    Joanna

    Like

  32. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  33. Oh Joanna, what a wonderful post with some exquisite music too, from Paul Simon’s The Sound of Silence a classic and played by a superb guitarist, also Eric Whitacre and two pieces by Enya! I’m blown away 💐💕💝💖💐🙋‍♂️

    Like

  34. What next? The autumnal Chelsea Flower show? Go on, spoil yourself 💐💐💐💐

    Like

  35. Thank you, Ashley, for your wonderful comments!! I am so glad that you like music too!

    Joanna

    Like

  36. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  37. These words touch those exact extremes like the swimmer who is not swimming to swim but representing the humankind, of the cruelties he must have seen.

    Smile. Work towards earning your own fruits, vegetables. Sweat. Smile again.

    I got lost in your videos, the sound of silence and the life being lived by these humans that i do not know if this post needs any more words.

    You are becoming the Earth yourself dear nature. Everything is standing out live. We are now.

    Thank you for making us feel uncomfortable.
    Narayan x

    Like

  38. Thank you, Narayan, for your uncompromising comments. Lewis Pugh wanted us to feel uncomfortable and do something
    collectively. If millions of us stop using plastic, create composts in our gardens, and follow climate change advice, we will
    possibly save our planet for our children and their children.

    Joanna

    Like

  39. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  40. It is so important that we protect what is left of our natural environment. Lots of the world’s problems have been known for decades but noone in authority listens as economics dictate what protection is effected. Well done to Lewis Pugh. I love that he is increasing awareness of this problem. 20 degrees in Antarctica! Goodness. Such a worry. We will continue to try to help our planet and stop the decline.

    Like

  41. Thank you for your kind comment. I am sure Lewis Pugh will be pleased.

    Joanna

    Like

  42. Thank you, Joanna, for another magnificent post! The oceans are so fragile! It is sometimes hard to see the devastation from the surface, and I found the statement that little ocean wilderness remains quite shocking. I know that many coral reefs are endangered. What a loss that is for the many animals found there.! Beautiful videos, lovely music, and a very informative post.

    I have always enjoyed swimming in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Nature is a great healer!

    I remember most of the words to “Sounds of Silence” and found them running through my consciousness during the instrumental rendition.

    Take care!

    Like

  43. Thank you, Cheryl, for your wonderful comments! I am so happy when readers agree my point! Collectively we can make changes.

    Joanna

    Like

  44. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

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