How Lewis Pugh Completed The Long Swim

lewis pugh
Photo: Kelvin Trautman

It's taken half a million strokes and he's burned nearly 100,000 calories, but Lewis Pugh has completed his astonishing 350-mile English Channel swim challenge.

Pugh reached his destination at Dover's Shakespeare Beach at around 1.30pm on Wednesday afternoon.

He has become the first person to swim the entire length of the English Channel wearing nothing but Speedo trunks, goggles and a swimming cap.

Pugh set off from Land's End in Cornwall 49 days ago. He's spent more than 100 hours in the water and suffered countless jellyfish stings along the way.

He told Sky News he was "relieved and exhilarated" after pushing his body to the limit, swimming between six and 12 miles every day to finish the challenge.

Pugh added: "I would like a nice long rest and very good sleep but very soon I head off to the G7 summit, where protecting oceans will be top of the agenda, and we've got the High Seas Convention where all the nations of the world are coming together to discuss how we can protect the oceans beyond our jurisdiction."

Bad weather off the Kent coast had threatened to delay his finish, but the 48-year-old scheduled three gruelling swim sessions within a 36-hour period to get back on track. That included a 10km swim in the middle of the night.

lewis pugh
Photo: Kelvin Trautman

"When I said that I would work night and day to finish this swim, I wasn't exaggerating," Pugh wrote in his daily blog. "We left the harbour at 9.30pm last night, for a 1am swim this morning.

"It was a special swim, everyone in the team each held a torch to light my way. There were no jellyfish. The sea was happy, with small waves pushing me forward in the right direction.

"There was a real sense of togetherness onboard, with a palpable sense of an ending and one of achievement.

"We have been on an adventure full of the most extreme highs and lows, and now that the end was in sight, it was spurring on every member of the team.

"Whenever I paused to catch my breath, the team would belt out 'it's coming home' at the tops of their voices and dance along the port deck, waving torches and glow sticks wildly.

"It made the night's swim go by so much quicker than any of the others have done. Two hours felt more like 20 minutes. Without really noticing it, I had covered 6.86 miles (11km)."

Pugh was joined on Tuesday morning's final long swim by Keith Oiller and Michael Jennings of the Channel Swimming Association (CSA). He has followed all CSA regulations for the duration of the swim. This includes the requirement to wear nothing but trunks, goggles and a cap, as well as rules on support swimmers and writing logs for each swim.

On arrival at Shakespeare Beach, the traditional starting point for cross-Channel swims to France, Pugh was greeted by Environment Secretary Michael Gove to discuss his motivations behind the swim.

Pugh is campaigning to raise awareness of the vulnerability of our seas, and is calling for 30% of the world's oceans to be fully protected by 2030. You can read his full message posted on Twitter below.

Lewis Pugh's Longest Swim in Numbers

  • 500,000 swim strokes
  • 98,000 calories burned
  • 350 miles covered
  • 14°C to 18°C average water temperature
  • 49 days duration
  • 3 items of swimwear
  • 30% of world's oceans to be fully protected by 2030, which is Pugh's aim

Lewis Pugh completes The Long Swim - Interactive Map

Lewis Pugh's Message After Completing The Long Swim


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