A few days back we told you about Lewis Gordon Pugh, a British long distance swimmer and environmentalist, who had traveled to the Himalaya to attempt the highest altitude, long distance swim ever. At the time, he was in Gorak Shep, a small village near Everest Base Camp, acclimatizing and preparing to take his record breaking dip. Since then, he has completed the 1km swim in ice cold glacial waters, but not without a few scary moments first.
Pugh is considered one of the world’s top cold water swimmers, and has traveled the globe making similar swims in an effort to raise awareness of global warming and the effect it is having on the Earth’s environment. In this case, he went to the Himalaya to shine a spotlight on the disappearing glaciers there.
He might have asked himself what he was thinking the first time he took the plunge into Pumori Lake, at 17,700 feet. In his blog, Pugh called his test swim the most frightening day of his swimming career after he almost “went under” twice in 300 meters. The altitude played havoc with his body, making it impossible to breathe and zapping his endurance. Worse yet, he suffered from a bit of altitude sickness as well.
But the next day, Pugh regrouped, found his pacing, and completed his1km swim through waters that were just 36ºF in temperature. In his customary style, he also wore just his Speedo, swim cap, and goggles, which gives me the shivers just thinking about it. It took him 22 minutes, 51 seconds to cover the distance, and the exhausted swimmer was happy to be out of the water when he was done.
Having just been in the same area as Pugh a month or so back, I can tell you that it is difficult to walk and breathe there, let alone swim. I can’t even imagine how hard this must have been for him.