Open water swimmers were invited along to Reef Beach this afternoon (Tuesday December 31st) to join international adventurer Lewis Pugh for the last swim of the year.

Lewis is in the Western Isles as part of his training and acclimatisation, ahead of a new challenge which he has taken on in his role as UN ambassador for the oceans. He is training on the Isle of Lewis for a big swim in Antarctica in January.

On 22nd January 2020, Lewis Pugh will attempt to swim where no human has swum before: 1kilometre across a supra-glacial lake in East Antarctica. Russian Olympic ice-hockey champion Slava Fetisov will be his second, responsible for protecting Lewis in this endeavour.

Lewis has previously achieved the designation of a huge area of the Antarctic ocean, the Ross Sea, as a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Negotiating with 24 countries and the EU to achieve this designation was dubbed ‘Speedo diplomacy’ by the world’s media.

His next challenge comes ahead of an international climate conference in Moscow, where he will be one of the inspirational speakers as the country celebrates 200 years since the discovery of Antarctica.

His training partner for the upcoming campaign is Dr Max Holloway, a competitive swimmer and runner who also coaches Olympic sailing. He works as an oceanographer and has undertaken field work in the Polar regions.

In the Western Isles the pair have chosen one of our own ocean heroes as a swim-buddy. Minch swimmer Colin Macleod is accompanying them on a series of training swims around the Isle of Lewis – and they welcomed swimmers to join them on Reef Beach this afternoon at 2:30pm.

The weather forecast is for an air temperature of 6ºC and sea temperature one degree warmer, at 7ºC.  The wind is picking up and gusting to 30mph, so please come along only if you are an experienced open water swimmer.

Picture shows Lewis Pugh and Max Holloway ready to enter the water at the mouth of Abhainn Dearg at Carnish in Uig yesterday (Lewis Pugh).