Plans as to just what to do with the newly open water are being hotly debated: Russia was quick to suggest waterslides, but there’s some thought that all the crying polar bears would be a major downer, and no one would really want to use the slides. Also, the Arctic Ocean remains fairly chilly.
The entire polar icecap, it should be said, is not expected to melt—just the area above the North Pole itself, a region covered in ice for the length of human memory.
Sunday he swam for nearly 19 minutes in the Arctic Ocean over the North Pole. Water temperatures were 29 degrees (-1.8 Celsius) and have been verified as the coldest waters anyone has ever swum in.
Why did he do it? To bring more attention to the climate change crisis. After his Sunday swim, and warming up a bit, I imagine, he said: “I am obviously ecstatic to have succeeded but this swim is a triumph and a tragedy -- a triumph that I could swim in such ferocious conditions but a tragedy that it’s possible to swim at the North Pole.
“It was frightening,” he continued, as reported on his project’s website. “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.
In setting the new cold-water swimming record, Pugh broke his own record, which he set in 32-degree water off the coast of Antarctica.