Last week I posted about Lewis Gordon Pugh, and his attempt to complete the highest altitude, long distance swim ever. At that time, Lewis had arrived at Gorak Shep, the last village before Everest Base Camp in Nepal. He was going to acclimatize for a few days, then go for a 1km swim in Lake Pumori, located at 17,700 feet. According to his blog, the British environmentalist was successful in that attempt, completing the swim yesterday, but it wasn’t without some scary moments first.
Pugh is considered one of the top long distance swimmers in the world, and has gone for a dip in cold waters across the planet, including both the Arctic and Antarctic. That experience would serve him well in the Himalaya, where the water was a chilly 36ºF. But it wasn’t the cold water that had him worried, but the altitude, which could completely mess with his breathing. It seems that was the case on Friday, when he made a test run, swimming 300 meters, and found it nearly impossible to breath. Lewis even says he nearly “went down” on more than one occasion, and remarking that it was “The Most Frightening Day of My Swimming Career”.
But, after he took a day off to rest, and further acclimatize, things got better. He also worked on pacing himself for the 1km swim in the glacial lake, and as a result, he managed to complete a swim that some had said would be impossible. It took him 22 minutes and 51 seconds to cover the distance, and at the end, he was relieved and happy at the same time.
Pugh, who has long campaigned to promote awareness of global climate change, was making this swim to shine a spotlight on the shrinking glaciers in the Himalaya and beyond.
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