When I began swimming 30 years ago, few famous landmarks had been swum. Now everything has changed.
I was the first person to complete a long distance swim in every ocean of the world. I also pioneered the concept of multi-day swims, most recently becoming the first person to swim the 528km length of the English Channel over 49 days.
In 2013 I was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
When I started long-distance swimming, it was an amateur activity; now it’s an Olympic sport. At the age of 17, I was the 50th person to complete the Robben Island swim; now 50 people might gather to do it on a weekend.
When I first swam across the English Channel, my eyes were burning from the salt. Today, goggles are state-of-the-art. We have GPS tracking and accurate weather forecasting. There are electronic anti-shark devices.
Though technology has changed our sport, I still swim with nothing more than goggles, a cap and swimming trunks. Pitting my body against the elements is hard. It challenges me, and it connects me with the ocean and those that swam before me.
But the biggest change I have witnessed since I started swimming is the state of our oceans. They are in deep trouble.
When I started swimming, it was all about being first. I no longer swim just for the love of the sport. I swim to protect the oceans that I love – for their own sake, and for all of our futures.
For my full list of record swims – click here.
Spin the globe to explore the world and see where Lewis has swum. Click on any pin to find out more about that particular swim.