LEWIS Pugh is swimming the length of the English Channel to raise awareness about the need for the government to do more to protect the nation's coastline, and he will arrive in Portsmouth in nothing but a pair of Speedos on Monday.
The visit will see the British endurance swimmer on day 33 of his 50-day challenge called The Long Swim, in which he will break a record for being the first man to swim the length of the channel wearing just Speedo swimming trunks, a cap and goggles.
He started the 560km challenge on July 12 at Land’s End, Cornwall, and is scheduled to complete it on August 29 at the White Cliffs of Dover.
The total length of the swim is the equivalent of crossing the English Channel from Dover to Calais 16 times over.
Lewis, who is the only person to have completed a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world, said: ‘I've been swimming in the world's oceans for 30 years. This is not a long time in ecological terms, and yet I've seen the oceans change before my eyes.
‘I’m swimming the length of the English Channel to call on the British government to urgently protect the waters that surround the UK.
‘The truth is that only seven sq km out of a total 750,000 sq km of the UK’s waters are fully protected.
‘This is shocking. The British government must protect the UK coastline properly by introducing fully-protected Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
‘It has been shown that they give distressed and degraded seas their best chance of recovery.
‘But the need for action is urgent, and the time to act is now. In a few years’ time, it will be too late to fix this crisis.’
Lewis is averaging five hours swimming, and covering between 10-20km, each day. He is the United Nations Patron of the Oceans and The Long Swim marks the start of worldwide campaign Action for Oceans, an initiative calling on governments to fully protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
He has increased his weight to 100kg to provide vital insulation from cold water and exhaustion. The Channel Swimming Association, which has been authenticating cross-channel swims since 1927, is observing and will verify his swim.
Surfers Against Sewage, one of the UK's leading marine conservation charities, is a partner in The Long Swim and will be hosting regular beach clean-ups along the swim route.
The campaign is supported by Lead Partner global forex broker FXTM and Speedo as an official partner.