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A British explorer has braved sub-zero temperatures to become the first person to swim at the North Pole.
Lewis Gordon Pugh took to the freezing waters on Sunday to highlight the devastating impact of climate change on the natural world.
It took him 18 minutes and 50 seconds to swim 0.6 miles in waters created by melted sea ice at temperatures of 29°F — the coldest a human has swum in.
"I am obviously ecstatic to have succeeded but this swim is a triumph and a tragedy,"
British explorer and endurance swimmer, Lewis Gordon Pugh, is attempting the challenge of a lifetime - to become the first ever person to swim at the Geographic North Pole in freezing temperatures of minus 1.8º centigrade – the coldest waters a human has ever swum in, it was announced today 28 May 2007.
The swim, in an area that should be frozen over will visibly demonstrate the devastating impacts of climate change on our planet.
Returning from an intense training period at the Nigards Glacier in Norway, Pugh said: “In recent years the Arctic has had the greatest increase in air temperatures in the world and a substantial decrease in sea ice. Areas of open sea are now appearing and the sea temperature in the Arctic Ocean is predicted to increase by 9ºC by the end of the century. These changes are being driven by global warming gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. Scientists predict that by the year 2040, the Arctic may be nearly devoid of ice during the summer. Just five or ten years ago this swim would never have been possible – most people have no idea that you can find patches of open sea at the North Pole in summer. It’s deeply regrettable that it’s possible now because of the devastating effects of climate change.
“This expedition represents the end of an era of Arctic exploration as we know it. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to walk to the North Pole. Many expeditions fail each year when they encounter big stretches of open sea. I can not imagine what the pioneer explorers like Roald Amundsen and Admiral Peary would have thought of someone swimming at the North Pole.”