Antarctic swim gains global coverage

30 January 2020: Stunning images of UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh’s perilous Antarctic swim transmitted from the ice sheet via Inmarsat ensured his climate crisis warning was seen and heard around the world.

Man swimming through open water in between glaciers

Lewis Pugh swimming the newly formed supra glacial river in Antarctica

Endurance swimmer Lewis took 10 minutes 17 seconds to cross a newly-formed supra-glacial river in East Antarctica on 23 January, with pictures and a report released in time to make a splash in the weekend newspapers.

His aim was to draw global attention to the speed at which the ice sheet is melting, and increase pressure on nations to cut carbon emissions faster.

Constant threat

With water temperatures at just above 0°C and a severe wind-chill factor, Lewis also had to contend with the constant threat of the glacial river suddenly emptying out though a crack in the ice and tumbling hundreds of metres to the rock bed below.

On completing the swim, which was the culmination of over 30 years of training, Lewis took to social media to say: “One of the more challenging aspects of an expedition to East Antarctica is communications, especially when it comes to sending images and communicating with the media.

“A very big thank you to Inmarsat, who pulled out all the stops.”

Man being filmed sitting on rocks

Lewis Pugh broadcasting via Inmarsat BGAN from Antarctica.

Inmarsat provided Lewis and his team with two Cobham EXPLORER 710 BGAN terminals, offering him the broadest range of broadband voice and data capabilities.

This week Lewis took his call for international consensus on creating Marine Protected Areas across 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 to Russia, joining celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica.

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