Achieving the Impossible


At a little after midnight on July 15, 2007, Lewis stood on the edge of the sea ice at the North Pole. It was the fifteenth anniversary of his father’s death and he was wearing just a Speedo swimsuit, the old-fashioned one that barely covers all that needs to be covered. Air temperature at the North Pole that night was below zero, the water into which he was about to plunge was minus 1.7ºC (29ºF) although this was no in-and-out dip into the world’s coldest water. Lewis was about to swim one kilometre across the North Pole and the thought did cross his mind that he might die.

This is a remarkable story and, ironically, extraordinary testimony to one man’s belief in life. Yes Lewis wants to help protect the most wonderful places on the planet, yes he wants us to reverse the damage we have done to our environment and yes he has given up everything to dedicate his life to this purpose. And it is not like he feels he is wasting his time.

Lewis spent the first ten years of his life in England, the next 17 in South Africa, and since then has lived in both countries, not forgetting great times spent in Norway. He is a maritime lawyer by training and a pursuer of dreams by inclination. There wasn’t an ocean or a sea that he didn’t want to swim, nor a mountain he didn’t want to climb and it was no surprise when he quit his well-paid lawyer’s job in the City of London for a life more interesting.

He spent five years in the British SAS, devoted his free time to preparing for and swimming in the world’s most hostile places; the North Cape, the Antarctic, the North Pole and developed an understanding of the beauty, the preciousness and fragility of life and its many eco-systems. Driven by nothing more than deep belief, he has achieved things most would regard as impossible. He doesn’t tell us what we must do but shows what can be done.