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The first person to swim to North Pole

Lewis PughOnly a few seconds in the icy depths would be enough to kill most mere mortals.

But yesterday, protected by nothing more than a pair of Speedo trunks and his extraordinary central heating, Lewis Pugh took the plunge and became the first man to swim at the North Pole.

The 36-year-old Londoner spent almost 19 minutes at minus 1.8C as he front crawled for a full kilometre - more than half a mile in the coldest water a human has ever swum.

"It was like jumping into a dark black hole," he said. "The pain was immediate and felt like my body was on fire.

"I was in excruciating pain from beginning to end and I nearly quit on a few occasions. It was without doubt the hardest swim of my life."

But he said that a colleague ski-ing on pack ice alongside him looking out for hungry polar bears spurred him on.

"I just kept on looking at Jorgen Amundsen ski-ing next to me, encouraging me. I will never ever give up in front of a Norwegian! Let alone a relative of Roald Amundsen (who beat Britain's Captain Scott to the South Pole.) There is just too much rivalry between our two nations for that."

On leaving the water yesterday, his core body temperature had fallen to 36.5 degrees and it dropped further to 35 degrees 20 minutes later but a warm shower enabled him to return to normal.

Watch a video of him training for this event after the jump.

Video: Akamai (WMV file)
Link & Image: This Is London
Previously: Brit to swim at North Pole
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