The British swimmer, Lewis Pugh, has completed a challenging course swimming more than 500 kilometers along the Hudson River, which flows south of Manhattan and New Jersey in the United States. This feat aims to remind the world of the vital importance of rivers for life on Earth.
Pugh, who also has South African nationality, made this challenge on the eve of the high-level week of the UN General Assembly, where the signing of the recently agreed High Seas Treaty begins. Recalling how the Hudson River was one of the most polluted in the world just 50 years ago, Pugh highlighted the need for clean, healthy rivers.
Appointed by the UN in 2013 as the first patron of the oceans, Pugh has performed similar feats in Antarctica, the North Pole, the Red Sea, and Himalayan lakes to raise awareness about the importance of conserving bodies of water. His message goes beyond swimming, as he also advocates for the safety of fishing and fish consumption.
During his 32-day journey, Pugh was not only accompanied by exuberant fauna and flora, but he also had the company of people of all ages who joined him on different sections of his journey. This act symbolizes that “people have returned to swimming in the river again,” according to the environmental defender.
The swimmer began his odyssey at the source of the Hudson River in the Adirondack Mountains, in upstate New York, and reached its mouth between Manhattan and New Jersey. This monumental achievement by Pugh aims to inspire communities around the world to take care of their own rivers and demonstrate that river and ocean restoration is an achievable goal. His journey also recalls projects such as the cleanup of the Seine River in Paris, which will allow swimming without health risks for the first time in 100 years, starting with the 2024 Olympic Games.