Lewis Pugh: 21 yaks and a speedo

I (Manda here… Katie was with me at the talk) have been aware of Lewis for some while. I mean you can’t really ignore a man who has swum at 90 degrees north aka the NORTH POLE, for no less than 1 kilometre and 18+ minutes and who decided it would be a great idea to climb up part of Mt Everest with a boat and then go for a dip at altitude before coming back down. So when the opportunity to hear the man speak came up it was a simple Yes. The talk took place at the National Geographic society, which Lewis, a former maritime lawyer, is a patron.

Yes Lewis’ talk was focused around his most memorable/challenging swims, which was shown by the number of swimmers in the audience, but ultimately these swims are just a platform to highlight the environmental campaigns he is raising awareness for and additionally, the life lessons he has learnt and is imparting onto the audience. I challenge any non-swimmer to go listen to the man and not be inspired.. maybe not inspired to throw yourself into water at -1.7 degrees, but be inspired to do something, anything to make a change. After the talk we got an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of his latest book, “21 yaks and a speedo”, which judging by the queue that promptly formed, 99% of the people at the talk decided to do!


Here is my review:

I was able to read and finish the book in a short period of time, namely traveling to/from Guernsey last weekend. There are no cliff hangers and it isn’t one continuous story to keep you reading, it was more just so enjoyable to read that I wanted to just keep reading. It often felt like you were reading a mate’s stories (probably because a lot of my friends are equally silly with their challenges!!). The book is split up into 21 chapters, aka Yaks and each one tells of a different adventure. Additionally, each chapter has a different quality associated with it, hope, blame, etc etc and any reader can take anyway some practical advice from the book.

The below are some of my favourite quotes from the book:

· Never plan for victory and defeat in your mind at the same time
· Don’t look for other people to validate your dreams. If it feels right, just go for it.
· Thoughts alone won’t make extraordinary things happen. But nothing ever happens if you don’t visualise it first.

I love reading these types of books but the difference between this and some other adventure writer books is that I actually liked Lewis at the end. There is an argument to say in order to succeed at these types of challenges you have to have qualities that make you seem like a “douche” but Lewis proves otherwise.

A sign of how good a book is can easily be judged by the amount of people you want to read it. I want EVERYONE to read it. I have already passed it on to a colleague at work and have been preaching the words of Lewis to another. Has it inspired me to do another big challenge?…not quite but I am tentatively swimming in that direction.

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