Polar swimmer talks to KZN pupils

2009-09-01 00:00

DREAM, dream, dream.

That was the advice from Lewis Gordon Pugh, the “human polar bear”, to the pupils of Durban’s Ridge Park High where he gave a motivational talk yesterday.

Pugh, the first person to undertake a long-distance swim at the North Pole, is doing a tour of KwaZulu-Natal schools hoping to inspire pupils and teach them about climate change.

His tour of schools was made possible by the Pick n Pay Schools Club and he will be visiting the midlands later this week.

He showed pupils a video of his famous North Pole swim and explained the dangers he faced, the toll on his body and his determination to complete the swim despite the -1,7°C water.

“Lots of people ask me why I would do something so crazy. I wanted to show the world what climate change was doing to the world,” he said.

He said it is simply a case of mind over matter.

“If your mind can see something, your body can do it. In my mind I swam the North Pole hundreds of times before I actually did it,” he said.

The outspoken Pugh, whose passion for the environment is evident, had pupils in stitches as he described the events leading up to his big swim in 2007.

“I listened to Puff Daddy and Eminem while I practised for the swim. Chopin or Mozart was not going to do it for me,” he said.

Even though he lost sensation in his hands for several months, Pugh said his dream to swim in the North Pole had been accomplished.

“After I completed the swim, I went on to meet many presidents and prime ministers. I discussed the effects on global warming with them,” the swimmer said.

He encouraged pupils to achieve their childhood dreams, no matter how big they seem.

“The happiest people I have met are those who followed their childhood dreams. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve.”

• Pick n Pay Schools Club is a free national programme of pupil and teacher aids reaching 60 000 teachers and 1,4 million pupils in over 1 840 schools across South Africa. For more information visit www.picknpay.co.za

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