Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lewis Pugh swims the North Pole

By Makayla L.

Ever think your pool water at home is cold? Or the water of the river in the Winter? Well here is someone who took cold water to a whole new level.

Lewis Pugh was inspired to try something new that would (hopefully) change our world. Pugh starts his presentation by sharing his own personal story to the audience. He shares stories from his childhood and talks about his inspiration, his late father. He tells stories of how his father was his inspiration to seek out a great adventure and help protect our fragile earth. His father would also talk about explorers, explorers who were the first of humankind to accomplish something superior to any other human, like climbing Mount Everest or walking to the South Pole. From an early age he had a deep desire to explore the polar regions. Pugh describes, “there was just something special that drew me to it.” When he finally got his chance to travel to the Arctic, he never missed a year after that without venturing up to the cold, icy climate. Seeing this place year after year, Pugh is seeing some major changes within the climate. He has seen polar bears struggle to walk on ice because of how thin it has become, and has swam by melting glaciers that are raising our sea level. Concerned for his beloved Arctic, he decides to swim across the North Pole.

The North Pole is no longer ice, but clear water that he has been inspired to swim in. He hoped that by doing this, it would open the eyes of the people and leaders around the world that climate change is a huge issue that needs to be resolved now. Pugh began to train for his journey across the Pole both mentally and physically. He would workout in the gym everyday and swam the race mentally in his head over a 100 times over and over again. Pugh, after a year decided he was ready. With the frosty water temperature at -1.7° c he was ready to do his first 5 minute trial run, to see how the 20 minute swim would work out. When Pugh first dove into the water he could hardly breath; he was hyperventilating, gasping and could not feel his hands. When he came out of the water his crew took him into the ship to a nice hot shower. Pugh struggled to get his swimming goggles off because his hands were blown up like giant sausages. What had happened was, since our body is mostly made out of water, the cells in his hands had froze and burst, and when water freezes it expands, causing the swelling. Pugh, in extreme pain, didn’t realize how big of a challenge he had created for himself until right then. Trying to numb away the pain in the shower, Pugh was still determine to reach his goal. He thought about the explorers his father had told him about, and how they made a difference. Pugh wanted to do this for his late father. A close friend, David, came up to Pugh on the boat before the swim and said:

“Lewis, I’ve known you since you were 18 years old. I’ve known you, and I know, Lewis, deep down, right deep down here, that you are going to make this swim. I believe in you Lewis. I’ve seen the way you’ve been training. And I realize the reason why you are going to do this. This is such an important swim. We stand at a very important moment in this history. And you're going to make a symbolic swim here to shake the lapels of world leaders. Lewis, have the courage to go in there because we are going to look after you every moment of it.”

Pugh was now motivated even more then before to do what he had been working so hard at the past year. They stopped the boat in the now-open sea; the doctor checked his core temperature one last time and he stepped onto the ice. Pugh dove into the frigid water and swam for 20 minutes across the North Pole. He had just accomplished something no other human had ever done before. Pugh now had inspired others to help stop global warming. He told his audience that in order to stop global warming, every country has to become involved with cuts in our resources. The other two things he told the audience was to become more educated about climate change, and third, we need to believe in ourselves. He ended his presentation with a question for his audience. He asked, “What type of world do we want to live in, and what decision are we going to make today to ensure that we all live in a sustainable world?”

Pugh in my mind was an excellent speaker. He told his story so that you felt like you could have been there with him. At the start of his presentation he started by telling his audience his story and how his father was into adventure and discovery. This gave the audience some background knowledge of what he was going to be talking about. He went on to talk about his swim and left the audience with something to think about. Pugh had a British accent which kept me enthused and a unique vocabulary; he even threw in a couple of swear words to keep the audience entertained. The talk I would say was more inspiring than persuasive. He used most of the presentation to describe the swim more than the message he was trying to send about climate change. I also thought he rushed his ending, which is an important component to the presentation as the speaker wants to get important lasting thoughts in the audience’s heads.

Pugh’s presentation was interesting and unique. He is a great public speaker and communicates with the audience very well. He made me feel like I was a part of the story when he went into detail with the temperature and pain he went through. I would suggest for future talks that he use better time management so parts of the speech don’t have to be as rushed.

1 comment:

  1. this is one of my favs Makayla. the image of his swollen hands will forever be in my mind.

    what amazing strength... 18-20 minutes ... wow.

    he also spoke at the Business Innovation Factory talks in Rhode Island if you want to hear more of him:

    we thought this video was pretty cool as well.. we showed it at a school assembly: