Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
WAB Learns

G06: PHE Endurance Athletes: ATHLETES

G6 PHE Unit

Endurance Swimmer - Lewis Pugh (British-South African)

Lewis Pugh is an endurance swimmer and, ocean advocate and UN Patron of the Oceans.

He has been described as the "Sir Edmund Hillary of swimming." He was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world, and he frequently swims in vulnerable ecosystems to draw attention to their plight.

Pugh is best known for undertaking the first swim across the North Pole in 2007 to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice. In 2010 he swam across a glacial lake on Mount Everest to draw attention to the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas, and the impact the reduced water supply will have on peace in the region. In 2018 he swam the full length of the English Channel to call for 30% of the world's oceans to be protected by 2030.

In 2010 Pugh was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and in 2013 the United Nations appointed him as the first UN Patron of the Oceans.

In 2016 he played a pivotal role in creating the largest marine reserve in the world in the Ross Sea off Antarctica. The media coined the term "Speedo Diplomacy" to describe his efforts swimming in the icy waters of Antarctica and shutting between the US and Russia to help negotiate the final agreement.

Pugh currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Cape Town.


  • Numerous Cold Water Swims (for all swims he was following the Channel Swimming Association rules, in just a pair of swimming trunks, cap and goggles)
  • Achievement of the "Holy Grail" of swimming by becoming the first person to complete a long-distance swim in all five oceans of the world.
  • Environmental swims to draw attention to current environmental issues (global warming, climate change, melting of the glaciers, protection of the oceans)

Olympic Marathon Swimmer - Sharon Van Rouwendaal (Netherlands)

Sharon van Rouwendaal is a Dutch swimmer and the Olympic gold medalist in the 10 km open water marathon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

She is noted for her versatility, and focuses on distance freestyle events. In a country known for its sprinters, she is the only elite distance swimmer. She has won several medals at European and world championships, both in open water and pool events.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Van Rouwendaal missed the final of the 400 m freestyle, finishing 19th in the heats. She subsequently pulled out of the 800 m freestyle, and later won the gold medal in the 10 km marathon at Fort Copacabana in 1:56:32.1. After 6 km she broke away from the field, and finished 17 seconds ahead of silver medalist Rachele Bruni.

Ultra Swimmer - Pedro Ordenes (Chile)

Coach Pedro is certified as a coach by the American Swim Coaches Association and the World Swim Coaches Association. He has coached for over 20 years in open water, and crossed the Strait of Magellan in temperatures below 37 degreed Fahrenheit. He also crossed the Beagle Channel, swimming round trip to Argentina and back to Chile - his home country - in similar temperatures. Pedro has participated twice in English Channel swims. He is an Alcatraz crossing legend, having swum it hundreds of times and guiding others from all over the world to make the crossing.

Coach Pedro also has over 4 Ironman world triathlon finishes and more than a dozen half Ironman triathlons. He has also organized and directed long distance swims in the San Francisco bay and abroad for over 20 years.


  • "People, land, and continents are separated by oceans, and swimmers are the only ones that can unite the continents, land, and people."
  • “Help swimmers make the transition from pool to open water, and to inspire a love and enthusiasm for the sport.”

Triathlete - Jan Frodeno (Germany)

Jan Frodeno (born 18 August 1981) is a German triathlete. He is the gold medal winner in men's triathlon at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, 3-time winner of the Ironman World Championship in 2015, 2016, and 2019, and 2-time winner of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2015 and 2018.

Born in Cologne, Frodeno started out as a swimmer in South Africa at the age of 15, and he entered triathlon in 2000. He then went to Germany to compete in the Triathlon-Bundesliga, and qualified for the national team in 2002. As part of the national team he trained at the Olympic Training Centre in Saarbrücken. Before his Olympic victory, his best result was placing sixth in the 2007 World Championships, and winning the German Championship the same year. He had previously also placed second and third in various races of the World Cup from 2005 to 2008.

Worldwide he is one of the most successful triathletes and has won many races throughout his career. Below you can find a short list of his biggest achievements to date:

Training per week: 45 hours

Year: swim 1200km, bike 15.000km, run 5.000km


  • Olympic Distance: Gold medal winner at the Beijing Summer Olympics
  • Half Ironmen Distance: 2-time winner of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2015 and 2018
  • Ironman Distance: 3-time winner of the Ironman World Championship in 2015, 2016, and 2019
  • World record holder for the Ironman distance, set in Roth, Germany in 2016 with 7:35:39 hours.

Marathon Open Water Swimmer - Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand)

Diagnosed with Acute Compartment Syndrome in her right leg and just thirty minutes from amputation, she was determined to prove the doctors wrong. Despite much uncertainty and multiple surgeries, Kim spent two years rehabilitating her leg and has now regained almost full functionality.

As part of this rehabilitation, Kim started to swim in a pool for the first time since primary school in New Zealand. On a dare, she went swimming in the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay and fell in love. Since then, she has done some of the toughest open water marathon swims around the world. Kim is only the 3rd woman and 6th person ever to complete the Ocean's Seven swimming challenge - the open water swimming equivalent to the Seven Summits of mountaineering.

List of the Ocean's Seven

  • The North Channel: between Ireland and Scotland, 34km
  • The Cook Strait: between New Zealand’s North and South Islands, 26km
  • The Moloka’i Channel: between Moloka’i and O’ahu, 44km
  • The English Channel: between England and France, 34km
  • The Catalina Channel: between Santa Catalina Island and Los Angeles, 32km
  • The Tsugaru Strait: between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, 20km
  • The Strait of Gibraltar: between Spain and Morocco, 16km

In 2015, she became the first woman to swim from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge – a distance of about 30 miles. The swim is known as the world’s most difficult swim, through shark-infested waters.
She became inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

To put her achievement into perspective:
 4,000 men and women have summited Mt. Everest.
 1,426 have swum the English Channel.
 12 men have walked on the moon.
 Only 5 people have swum from the Farallons to San Francisco. Kimberley is the first woman. There’s only one Kimberley Chambers.

Ultra-Marathon Swimmer - Ross Edgley (British)

Ross Edgley is an extreme adventurer, ultra-marathon sea swimmer and author. He holds multiple world records, but is best known for completing the World's Longest Staged Sea Swim in 2018 when he became the first person in history to swim 1,792 miles (2,884 km) all the way around Great Britain in 157 days. Voted Performance of the Year by the World Open Water Swimming Association, he documented his training, nutrition, theories and strategies and published them in his books titled The World's Fittest Book (2018) and The Art of Resilience (2020) which both became No.1 Sunday Times Bestsellers and have been translated into several other languages.

Between June and November 2018, Edgley completed a 157-day 1,792 miles (2,884 km) swim around Britain. Aided by a team of experts which monitored the tides and his health in his 16 metres (52 ft) support boat Hecate, he typically swam for six hours, rested for six hours, and swimming another six hours etc. He typically consumed around 15,000 calories a day, eating pizza, pasta, noodles, Shepherd's pie, porridge, biscuits, natural yogurt, peanut butter, coconut oil, bananas and other fruits and vegetables and guzzling green shakes before every swim. By mid October he had consumed 554 bananas. The gruelling swim took its toll on his body, disintegrating his tongue through the eroding effect of the salt, giving him "Rhino Neck" from the effect of the wetsuit rubbing, and his feet entirely losing their arches and turning a deep purple and yellow. The team treated him with Sudocrem, Vaseline, plasters, bin bags and duct tape.

Talking about his historic swim he said, "It's my hope that people remember the Great British Swim as an example or experiment in both mental and physical fortitude."


  • Fastest person to swim the length of the English Channel from Dover to Land's End over 350 miles (563 km) in 30 days
  • Fastest person to swim the 900 miles (1,400 km) from Land's End to John o' Groats in 62 days.
  • 1,000 mile barefoot run in a month carrying a 50-kg backpack
  • Olympic Distance Triathlon carrying a 100-lb tree
  • Swimming over 100 km across the Caribbean Sea pulling a 100-lb tree
  • Swimming non-stop for 48 hours at the Commando Training Centre for the Royal Marines
  • Completing 30 Marathons in 30 days.