In one of the most challenging and difficult open water swims in history based on its arduous physical requirements, its audacious logical requirements and its very real potential for serious danger to both swimmer and crew, explorer and environmentalist Lewis Pugh hiked up Mount Everest to 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) and completed a 1 km non-wetsuit swim in a glacial lake.
His April 2010 swim on Lake Pumori on the Khumbu Glacier called attention to the impacts of climate change.
He explains, “As a result of global warming, temperatures in the Himalayas have risen by 1°C and the glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world. Scientists predict they could disappear within 25 years. In fact, the active part of the Khumbu Glacier has retreated over 5 kilometers since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgart climbed it for the first time in 1953.
These glaciers are not just ice. They are a lifeline – they provide water to a fifth of the world’s population. It’s essential that politicians put aside their differences and agree a bold strategy to reduce climate change to below current levels when they meet in Copenhagen at the end of the year. There is no time for delay.”
This swim was just one of the swims that Pugh describes in his latest book, 21 Yaks and a Speedo. While Pugh has captured the attention of many global leaders, he has captured the attention of everyone from teenagers still in school looking forward to adventure to hardened veterans who have experienced life’s ups and downs. The book, nominated for the the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year, offers 21 chapters, each colorfully describing Pugh’s strategies and exploits both on land and in the water. Each chapter provides clear lessons on how readers from every walk of life can set about physically and mentally to achieve their own impossible. His chapters describe his swims achieved everywhere from Antarctica to the Arctic including his Mount Everest exploit.
The chapters in 21 Yaks and a Speedo are entitled Channel, Vasbyt, Escape, Visualise, Mind, Blame, Believe, Push, Follow, Grind, Test, Open, Hope, Break, Strive, Plan, Switch, Trust, Change, Stand Up, and Dream – each hints of what an open water swimmer can experience.
Pugh describes words like vasbyt, an Afrikaan word that has no equivalent in English, as a concept that can be easily applied and understood by every open water swimmer.
Pugh explains, “Vasbyt means bite down hard. Don’t quit. Keep on going.”
Widely acknowledged as a captivating speaker, Pugh’s written words create a similar ambiance of page-turning excitement. Al Gore, former Vice President of America, said, “Lewis is certainly one of the most exciting speakers I have heard. He is a brave and courageous leader who adds a fresh perspective to climate change.” Rt. Hon Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the UK, says of Pugh, “He is one of the great environmental campaigners of our age and a truly extraordinary athlete.”
Right from the start, the book is unusual. The first page before the Table of Contents states, “In accordance with the Official Secrets Act, the names of the soldiers of the British SAS, and the places in which they served, have been changed to protect their identity.” With such an introduction, the books are almost always military-oriented adventures that pit good guys against the bad guys in war-time recollections. But this foreword sets the tone for a book about a swimmer and the different messages that he wants to share.
Every page provides an easy-to-grasp gem of wisdom that can be applied in school or work, in training or competition, with a team or as a soloist. Throughout 21 Yaks and a Speedo, Pugh takes the readers along his journeys from the bottom of the Earth to the very top of the planet. His style is a quick-reading, profoundly inspirational, first-person insight of his unique experiences where he has had to vasbyt.
The nomination for 21 Yaks and A Speedo reads, It is a fantastic concept: connect Lewis Pugh’s extreme swims around the world with profound life lessons. Pugh’s 21 Yaks and a Speedo pulls it off extraordinarily well; it is insightful to both seasoned business executives and impressionable teenagers while striking a deep resonance with swimmers and aquatic Luddites. When it comes to pushing the limits of one’s body, mind, and creativity, few have succeeded like Pugh. Elaborate operations, difficult logistics, physiological challenges, and psychological barriers, Pugh meets each of these obstacles head-on and writes simply how he overcomes them. A masterful storyteller with a swim record that is anything but fictional, Pugh’s book can be read quickly and repeatedly. For its ability to inspire others to achieve the impossible, for its colorful language that quickly engages, for its unique format that distills valuable life lessons, Lewis Pugh’s 21 Yaks and A Speedo is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
The nominees for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year includes a variety of products, services and concepts in the open water swimming world and include the following:
1. 21 Yaks and A Speedo, Storytelling Life Lessons by Lewis Pugh (U.K.)
2. Amphibia Sports Ring, Simple Silicone Solution For Swimmers (Ireland)
3. Bold & Beautiful, A Pod by the Shore (Australia)
4. Driven, Documenting Distance and Dedication (U.S.A.)
5. FINIS Agility Paddles, Training Tools of the Trade (U.S.A.)
6. Global Open Water Swimming Conference, Culminating In Cork (Ireland)
7. International Ice Swimming Association, Cooling To The Extreme (South Africa)
8. Ocean-navi, Navigating Throughout The Pacific (Japan)
9. Ocean Swimming & Prone Paddleboarding for Athletes with Spinal Cord Injuries (U.S.A.)
10. Open Water Swimming Manual: An Expert’s Survival Guide by Lynne Cox (U.S.A.)
11. Oru Kayak, Origami of the Open Water (U.S.A.)
12. Ouma Academy, Swimming The Sea (Tunisia)
13. Plastic Disclosure Project by Ocean Recovery Alliance (Hong Kong)
14. Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, Far Forward Thinking In The Ocean (U.S.A.)
15. Swim Smooth, Styling Streamlined Swimming (Australia/U.K.)
Online voting takes place here.
Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association