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Having partners with purpose makes all the difference

In my last update I spoke about the incredible team behind the Seven Swims in the Seven Seas for 1 Reason expedition. This time I want to talk about the people behind the team.

Desmond Tutu once said to me, “You’re not a swimmer Lewis, you’re a peace campaigner.” When I asked him what he meant he said, “When you damage the environment, you create conditions ripe for conflict. When you protect the environment, you bring peace.”

That got me thinking about the great peace campaigners in the world – Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela. And I realised that they couldn’t have done anything without sponsors, whether material, or in kind and mind.

It made me realise how profoundly grateful I am to the sponsors who have stood behind me during all my expeditions, and particularly the ones partnering me in my current Seven Swims in the Seven Seas for 1 Reason campaign. They’re a very special bunch.

For me it is crucial to choose sponsors who have a real purpose. This expedition is great example of that: my partners include two big charitable foundations and a company working to unlock potential in Africa.

The Oak Foundation was founded by the Parker family. Their business began in international duty free trading, and their foundation is committed to addressing issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. Their environmental programme focuses on global climate change mitigation and marine conservation. Kristian Parker is a Marine Biologist and absolutely passionate about the issues we are highlighting with these seven swims, and I am very grateful for his support.

His Royal Highness Prince Khaled bin Sultan of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia used to dive in the Red Sea as a young boy. His passion for corals and other ocean creatures inspired him to establish the Living Oceans Foundation, to help preserve, protect and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources. When they are not underwater, his foundation’s researchers work out of Washington D.C., and I am very proud to have them behind me on this expedition.

SEACOM lay undersea cables. Their cables run under the oceans between Africa and Europe and the Middle East, and from Africa to India. That’s a lot of data – and a lot of time spent under water! They understand that we cannot unlock the potential of Africa unless everyone is online; their aim is to connect Africa to the rest of the world by bringing affordable data connectivity – and all its associated benefits – to all of the continent’s people. And since my own roots are in both Europe and the African continent, I salute their efforts wholeheartedly.

It goes without saying that I couldn’t undertake this expedition without their support. But the best thing of all is that they understand that it’s not what we do, but why we do it. Having partners with purpose makes all the difference, and I am very, very proud to have them on board.

Author: Lewis Pugh is an ocean advocate and a pioneer swimmer. In 2010 he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and in 2013 he was appointed Patron of the Oceans by the United Nations Environment Programme. http://lewispugh.com

Photo credit: Shelley Christians