Speaking Topics Include
Achieving the Impossible
Leading Diverse Teams
Creating a Culture of Excellence
Building a Sustainable Business
Sustainability & Climate Change
Who Am I?
When I began swimming 30 years ago, few famous landmarks had been swum. Now everything has changed.
I pioneered swims across the North Pole, in the Antarctic, across a glacial lake on Mt Everest, and even under the Antarctic ice sheet.
I was the first person to complete a long distance swim in every ocean of the world. I also pioneered the concept of multi-day swims, most recently becoming the first person to swim the 528km length of the English Channel over 49 days.
In 2013 I was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
When I started long-distance swimming, it was an amateur activity; now it’s an Olympic sport.
At the age of 17, I was the 50th person to complete the Robben Island swim; now 50 people might gather to do it on a weekend.
When I first swam across the English Channel, my eyes were burning from the salt. Today, goggles are state-of-the-art. We have GPS tracking and accurate weather forecasting. There are electronic anti-shark devices.
Though technology has changed our sport, I still swim with nothing more than goggles, a cap and swimming trunks. Pitting my body against the elements is hard. It challenges me, and it connects me with the ocean and those that swam before me.
But the biggest change I have witnessed since I started swimming is the state of our oceans. They are in deep trouble.
When I started swimming, it was all about being first. I no longer swim just for the love of the sport. I swim to protect the oceans that I love – for their own sake, and for all of our futures.
Lewis Pugh is an endurance swimmer and the UN Patron of the Oceans. He pioneers swims in the most vulnerable ecosystems on Earth to campaign for their protection.
He was the first person to swim across the North Pole, and the first to swim the full length of the English Channel. He was also the first to complete a long distance swim in every ocean of the world.
Lewis has been instrumental in protecting over 2 million km2 of vulnerable ocean – an area the size of Western Europe. His dream is to fully protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Lewis talks about the methods he uses – a clear vision, the right mind-set, choosing a strong team, meticulous preparation, never quitting, and having the flexibility to change when circumstances dictate. TED describe him as a “master story-teller”.
Lewis has received many awards for his work. He was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He was chosen as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year. And he has been inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
What makes Lewis Pugh an outstanding inspirational speaker?
U.N. PATRON OF THE OCEANS
Lewis Pugh pioneers swims in the most vulnerable ecosystems on Earth to campaign for their protection. He was the first person to swim across the North Pole, and the first to swim the full length of the English Channel.
He was also the first to complete a long distance swim in every ocean of the world. Lewis has been instrumental in protecting over 2 million km2 of vulnerable ocean – an area the size of Western Europe. His dream is to fully protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Lewis knows how to hold a room – whether walking alone into the Kremlin, negotiating the protection of UK waters in the middle of Brexit, or inspiring a corporate audience.
With vivid storytelling, Lewis takes his audiences through the highs and lows of pioneer swimming, reliving the close calls, spectacular wildlife encounters and the passion that fuels him to take action and change the world.
Lewis’s speech at the Business Innovation Forum in Rhode Island was voted one of the 7 Most Inspiring Videos on the Web.
Over 5 million people have viewed Lewis’s TED Talks, and countless others have followed him on the BBC, CNN, BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show, HBO, France 2, Good Morning America, Radio 4’s The Today Programme, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, and many more.
Lewis has appeared with Jon Stewart and Jay Leno. His editorials have been published in The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph, among others. Last year, Sky News made three documentaries about his work.
As an ocean advocate and a pioneer swimmer, Lewis puts his hard-learned lessons into the context of a corporate environment. He shares the visualisation that enabled him to undertake the first swim across the sub-zero waters of the North Pole. He shares the radical tactical shift that he used to complete the first swim across a glacial lake on Mt Everest. And he describes the teamwork and the resilience required during the 49 consecutive days it took for him to become the first person to swim the entire length of the English Channel. Most importantly he inspires people to dig deep, define their goals and achieve their own ‘impossible’. Because nothing less will do.
PUBLICATIONS, AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
Lewis’s two books, Achieving the Impossible and 21 Yaks and a Speedo, were both bestsellers. Lewis has received numerous awards for his work. In 2009 he was awarded South Africa’s highest honour, the Order of Ikhamanga (Gold Class). 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 appointed him as the UN Patron of the Oceans. He has been inducted into both the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the Ice Swimming Hall of Fame. He was named National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year in 2015 and awarded Sports Adventurer of the Year by the French Sports Academy. Most recently he was awarded the Mungo Park Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
When Unilever decided to double their business and halve their environmental footprint, they chose Lewis to motivate their management team.
On their 125th anniversary, Coca-Cola asked Lewis to address their worldwide leadership team.
And when AIA, one of the largest life insurers in the Asia Pacific region, turned 100, it was Lewis they chose to help them visualise their future in an increasingly unpredictable world.
He regularly addresses political and business leaders at large international conferences including the World Economic Forum and the COP Climate Change Summits.
In 2018, Lewis co-hosted the Wildscreen Panda Awards, the world’s most prestigious wildlife and environmental film and TV awards.
The following year, HM The Queen invited Lewis to give the principal reflection on the 70th anniversary of The Commonwealth at Westminster Abbey.
Some of the organisations Lewis has spoken to include:
TBWA, Airbus, Cathay Pacific, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PWC, Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Toyota, Volvo, Coca–Cola, Johnnie Walker, Pernont.