août 31, 2023 Live from the road

Troy, New York

Reported by Vasanti Niemz

On Aug. 31, we had the opportunity to meet UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh (here with his skipper Sean Makofsky) near Albany, NY, on day 19 of his 315 mile / 507 km #HudsonSwim2023, already more than halfway down from the river's source all the way to Manhattan - a tremendous effort in support of river and ocean health "for a peaceful and sustainable future on our planet". (Pls. see:

He had just finished his first swim of the day - 11 km in choppy brown waters - and was giving two inspiring interviews to local media and environmentalists. One of his key messages is "When we protect the environment, we foster peace."

Lewis, also known as the "human polar bear", made international headlines in 2007, when he became the first person to swim 1 km at the North Pole in minus 1,7 °C, to highlight man-made global warming even affecting the Arctic.

In 2010 he swam 1km in Lake Pumori at the foot of Mt. Everest at 5300 m to highlight the melting of glaciers, which are life-giving not only for the Himalaya region, but for millions of people. In 2018 he swam the length of the English Channel in 48 days. He has dedicated all his swims in all the oceans around the world including Antarctica to raising awareness about the interconnectedness of climate change, environment and peace and the need for protection of our rivers and oceans.

His efforts and campaigns have made a difference. They have contributed to the protection of 2.2 million km² of ocean through the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The current aim is to fully protect 30% of the world's oceans by 2030 - and to help restore river health, since rivers are the arteries of our planet.
Another one of his key messages is that there is hope and that each of us can make a difference.

Tiredness and soreness were setting in he said (200 miles into the swim), but his determination is steely. Lewis showed interest in some pilates tips for core stabilisation Diksha gave him after he mentioned his back was hurting from arching. With Diksha's 37 years of UN experience working on many environmental projects around the world, we got into a nice conversation with Lewis, before we gave him a number gifts we had brought.

Lewis has a great and dedicated support team - every amazing self-transcendence achievement needs team-work of course. Some were even familiar with our Sri Chinmoy Zurich Lake Marathon swim and the 3100 Mile Race, which is currently going on in Queens.

On top of some juicy red grapes (which he seemed to love), baby bananas and coconut water we also had some inspirational gifts for him. Of course, "Never give up" is no option for Lewis, but he happily accepted the t-shirt.

We also offered him some new Peace Run material (he received the 30th anniversary photo book already back in 2013 in Edinburgh, when he signed his book "Achieving the Impossible" for me), and of course "Listen to Nature" by Sri Chinmoy, with a foreword by Jane Goodall, plus the book and audio version of "Jewels of Happiness" with Desmond Tutu's voice.

And a Peace Run t-shirt, which he also graciously accepted. Wearing the t-shirt makes you an honorary Peace Run team member! Of course we would love to offer you the Peace Torch at the right time!

Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, was not only a dear friend of Lewis, but also the Founding Patron of the Lewis Pugh Foundation. He was a veteran anti-apartheid activist and peace campaigner, who also emphasized the importance of protecting the environment to promote peace (

He was also a good friend of Peace Run founder Sri Chinmoy and loved and supported the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. He received the Peace Torch on several occasions over the years and was honoured with the Torch Bearer Award.

Wishing Lewis and his team all the best to reach Manhattan safely by Sept. 13th and to be able to inspire politicians and government officials at the UN General Assembly and during United Nations Climate Week to take more meaningful action - for a peaceful and sustainable future.
(Photo credit: Kelvin Trautman - who also took some photos with my camera, thank you for that!)

Thank you Lewis and team for your heroic and self-giving efforts!

Gratitude also to Diksha's sister Lynn (a Westpoint women's basketball coach), who hosted us so kindly and offered us an amazing peaceful dinner to cap the day off - with great buckwheat pasta and organic self-grown veggies!

I am responsible
Not only for my own life
But for the earth-planet as well.
- Sri Chinmoy ("Listen to Nature")

Torch carried by
Diksha Arturi (United States), Vasanti Niemz (Germany).  
Kelvin Trautman, Vasanti Niemz

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