He Has Braved 'Forbidding Waters.' The Hudson Is Next

The 'NYT' previews Lewis Pugh's 315-mile attempt
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2023 8:29 AM CDT
He Has Swam in 'Forbidding Waters.' The Hudson Is Next
The Hudson.   (Getty Images / MDoculus)

He has braved "some of the most forbidding waters on the planet," as the Guardian puts it, and British endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh plans to next brave New York's 315-mile Hudson River. In a preview of his monthlong swim, the New York Times reports Pugh—who has served as the UN's Patron of the Oceans for the last decade—expressed his desire to find a river that "could tell the story about all rivers." The Hudson's story is one of redemption, he says, proof that "a river can be misused and then cared for and turn around its fate," and an encouraging model for rivers ranging from the Ganges to the Nile. And yet as the paper points out, the 53-year-old's swim, set to run from Aug. 13 to Sept. 13, won't be in pristine water.

The rescue work on the river continues, and a medical guide prepared in advance of Pugh's attempt warned he could suffer infection from "human sewage and rat infestation" as well as chemicals like mercury that linger in the water. Then there are the visible obstacles too, like logs, branches, and rocks. "Your swim can be over on Day 1," Pugh acknowledges. While Christopher Swain managed the feat in 2004, Pugh points out Swain did so in a wetsuit; Pugh will be more lightly dressed in a Speedo, goggles, and cap. And despite being the first person to swim across the Red Sea earlier this year and having nearly died after swimming a kilometer in a glacial lake some 17,000 feet up Mount Everest, rivers are apparently a fearsome thing for Pugh: "In 36 years of swimming, I've only done four river swims because on three of them, I got seriously, seriously sick." (Read the full Times interview here.)

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