Lewis William Gordon Pugh, OIG, is a British-South African endurance swimmer and ocean advocate.
He has been described as the "Sir Edmund Hillary of swimming." He was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world, and he frequently swims in vulnerable ecosystems to draw attention to their plight.
Pugh is best known for undertaking the first swim across the North Pole in 2007 to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice. In 2010 he swam across a glacial lake on Mount Everest to draw attention to the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas, and the impact the reduced water supply will have on peace in the region.
He undertakes all of his swims, even those in the Polar Regions, according to Channel Swimming Rules – i.e. in just a Speedo costume, cap and goggles. In 2013 he was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
In 2010 Pugh was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for his "potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world through inspiring leadership."
In 2013 the United Nations appointed him as the UN Patron of the Oceans.In 2016 he played a pivotal role in creating the largest marine reserve in the world in the Ross Sea off Antarctica. The negotiations required consensus among 24 nations and the EU, a number of which had long standing disputes with one another. 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.Pugh currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Cape Town.