September 26


The Long Swim: 3 Lessons For Every Business

By Rhys Herbert

September 26, 2018


Lewis Pugh recently completed a 560km swim along the English Channel in the fight to protect our oceans. Here’s what every business can learn from his efforts.

The average person burns around 500 calories in an hour of swimming. As a rough estimate Lewis Pugh — in his superhuman effort The Long Swim — burned somewhere in the region of 250,000 calories over the course of 50 days.

That’s one way to sacrifice yourself for a cause. Pugh not only completed a feat of endurance most would not even think about, let alone attempt — he did so while bringing attention to our long-suffering oceans.

The Long Swim was a feat of endurance with environmentalism as its driving force.

He campaigned — alongside our charity partners Surfers Against Sewage — to get international governments to commit to fully protecting 30% of our oceans by 2030.

And it’s working. Within weeks of completing The Long Swim, the UK government answered his call. At the UN General Assembly later this week, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey will urge other countries to designate 30% of the world’s oceans as Marine Protected Areas.

With such resounding success and global coverage, there are plenty of lessons to be learnt from Lewis Pugh’s astounding feat. Let’s look at three things every business can learn from the success of The Long Swim.

1) Standing up for a cause

The very core of the effort was a noble one. Pugh wasn’t seeking athletic glory (although he surely attained it). Instead, his goal was greater protection for our environment — pushing his body through extreme barriers for the good of the ocean.

Your business doesn’t need to go to those lengths to contribute. Use the skills, resources and opportunities at your disposal to help in your own way.

As a feat of endurance, Lewis Pugh's The Long Swim is almost unparalleled, and has a message of sustainability at its heart.

Run a retail business? Stock sustainably-sourced goods and inspect your supply chain for chances to be greener.

Read about some easy ways to reduce your company’s plastic consumption and get into carbon offsetting.

Employ thousands of people? Create a volunteering scheme and donate company time to a good cause.

Even if you run a one-person operation, there are dozens of ways to get involved.

2) Spreading a sustainable message  

Lewis Pugh made an immediate impact on the environment because of one thing: effective communication.

He used social media — as well as TV and print media — to spread his message worldwide, in real time. Using daily updates on Instagram, Facebook and more, supporters could see the person behind the challenge. Once they bought into him, it was easier to sign up to his message.

Human beings are built to tell stories. The tales-round-the-campfire spirit never leaves us. It’s why social media has got us by such a firm grip, and why The Long Swim became a global phenomenon.