By swimming the Hudson, Pugh shows how a once toxic waterway can be revived.

Pugh started his ambitious 507km swim from the source of the Hudson River - the aptly named Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains - on 13 August and finished in New York City on 13 September.

While doing his 32-day swim through the eastern United States, Pugh drew unprecedented attention to reclaiming our rivers as a key resource for health, life and sport.  

Pugh has established a global reputation for record-breaking swims in extreme environments, which he uses to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and pollution on the world's oceans.

Pugh has a long history of completing long-distance swims, including swimming expeditions in every ocean of the world. This has included swimming in some of the most remote and challenging places on Earth, including the North Pole, the South Pole, and the first swim across the Red Sea last year. 

Pugh is particularly passionate about protecting rivers. He believes that rivers are the lifeblood of the planet and that we have a duty to protect them.  

Image Source: Pugh swam from the source of the Hudson River to its outlet into the Atlantic Ocean in New York City (Lewis Pugh)

"The Hudson is one of the most incredible rivers in the world. It starts high up in a wilderness environment with turkey vultures, beavers and bears, and ends in over the greatest cities in the world," said Pugh. "I did this swim to highlight just how important it is to protect our rivers. Our rivers are the arteries of our planet. 

"We simply cannot have a healthy planet without clean, healthy rivers."

Ahead of next year’s Olympic open water swimming competition in the Seine, Pugh's Hudson River swim underlines how it is possible to clean up even the most polluted rivers. It also shows that the World Aquatics community has a vital role to play in protecting the planet. 

"We simply cannot have a healthy planet without clean, healthy rivers."
By Lewis Pugh

While addressing world leaders at the UN last week, Pugh’s message has been that all rivers and lakes should be drinkable and swimmable. World Aquatics fully supports this bold and ambitious goal. Through programmes such as our Swim for All, Swim for Health, Swim for Life programme, World Aquatics will continue to ensure that the world’s bodies of water are welcoming places for all of society. 

"Swimming is more than just a sport for me. It's a way of telling a powerful story about what is happening to our planet.”   

“Those of us who use oceans and rivers surely have a duty to be their guardians," added Pugh. "If we don't, who will?"