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The Lewis Pugh Foundation is a registered charity in England & Wales.
Charity Registration no. 1168977.
On August 13 2023, Lewis Pugh began his 315-mile (507-km) swim down the Hudson River, from its source to its end at New York City. He finished the swim, 'exhausted but rejuvenated', on Wednesday 13 September, at Battery Park. Lewis swam to to highlight the critical role rivers play in a habitable planet.
During the epic journey, Lewis explored the interconnectedness of rivers and oceans, and stress the urgent need to restore, protect and respect them. “If we want healthy oceans we also need healthy rivers — it’s that simple.”
The end of the swim coincides with the UN General Assembly Week, Climate Week NYC 2023, and the UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit.
HUDSON SWIM IN THE MEDIA
Follow the day-to-day progress of the swim from source to sea.
The pointers mark his final position each day.
Lewis completed the Hudson Swim, coming ashore at the American Merchant Mariners' Memorial in Battery Park, Manhattan, to the cheers of gathered supporters. Read below to follow the progress of the swim from start to finish.
On Wednesday, Lewis swam the remaining miles of the Hudson River, coming ashore near the American Merchant Mariners' Memorial in Battery Park.At around 10:30, a group of supporters and members of the media met Lewis as he ascended the pier ladder. A light sprinkle set in as Lewis addressed the media, but the gathered crowd was largely unfazed. Come rain or shine, your steadfast support has meant the world to us.
After officially finishing 315 miles and 32 days of the Hudson Swim, Lewis and the team attended a finale event at the Battery where we heard from Jamil Ahmad, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the United Nations Environment Programme in New York, Michael Marks from our partners Legal and General Investment Management, CEO of the Global Environment Facility Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, and of course, Lewis, on the importance of protecting our rivers and the oceans they feed and working towards a sustainable, habitable planet.
On Tuesday, Lewis started swimming 1.4 miles from Manhattan Valley, ending at 15:52 near Pier 26. Lewis is officially on the home stretch.
On Monday, Lewis swam 8.1 miles from Riverdale to just south of Riverbank State Park. On the way, Yvette Tetteh joined Lewis in the river. Yvette is a passionate environmentalist and swimmer who recently swam the entire length of the Volta River in Ghana to raise awareness about the impact of synthetic microfibers on river ecosystems and communities. Together, Lewis and Yvette swam under the George Washington Bridge — one of the last bridges of the Hudson River. Cumulative distance: 310 miles.
On Sunday, Lewis swam 6.9 miles from Sleepy Hollow Manor to Dobbs Ferry. It was a particularly rainy day, but as the rain subsided the cliffs of the Palisades Interstate Park came into view. This park exists thanks to the efforts of many citizen groups, including the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, who fought to stop quarry operations and preserve the land as a natural park. For the first time, Lewis also saw the Manhattan skyline in the distance. At 01:00 local time, Lewis headed out for a night swim, covering 8 miles. Cumulative distance: 308 miles.
On Saturday, Lewis attended a press conference for the Hudson Swim at Croton-on-Hudson with Senator Pete Harckham and Congressman Mike Lawler from the State of New York. Lewis then began swimming 7.6 miles from Bowline Point Park to Sleepy Hollow Manor at 12:06 local time. During the morning session, swimmers from the Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics (AGUA) Swim Team joined Lewis in the river for a stretch. Lewis also encountered the widest part of the Hudson—Haverstraw Bay— measuring 3.4 miles (5.5 km) across. Cumulative distance: 293 miles.
On Friday, Lewis covered 5.6 miles from Bear Mountain Bridge to Tomkins Cove. During the morning session, Lewis and the team made sure to keep out of the way of barges coming from both directions. He also passed Indian Point, a decommissioned nuclear power plant that once had plans—recently cancelled thanks to citizen protest—to dump over a million gallons of radioactive waste into the Hudson River this month. Later at Half Moon Bay Marina, Lewis had the pleasure of meeting Chris Swain, who swam the length of the Hudson in 2004, albeit with assistance. Lewis went on a night swim at 12:30 local time, covering 4.4 miles. Total distance to date: 286 miles.
On Thursday, the media joined Lewis on the river for an interview about the Hudson Swim. At 11:18 local time, Lewis swam 5.2 miles from Breakneck Point to Garrison Yacht Club. At Garrison, Lewis swam past West Point Military Academy, alma mater to luminaries like astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Dwight D. Eisenhower. An evening storm brought thunder and heavy rain that almost stopped the night swim, but the storm passed quickly, and the team were able to get back into the water. Cumulative distance: 276 miles.
On Wednesday, guests from the media joined Lewis on the river. Swimming from Danskammer to Global Newburgh Terminal, Lewis covered 7.5 miles in the morning, finishing off the first session at around 12:25 local time. Lewis returned to the boat for media interviews, post-swim treatment and logistics planning. After an early supper and rest, Lewis and team got back in the river at Global Newburgh Terminal at 23:45 for a night swim. Cumulative distance: 266 miles.
At 09:09 local time, Lewis and the team left Shadows Marina in Poughkeepsie, swimming 0.6 miles north of Quiet Cove Riverfront Park. At Quite Cove, Lewis was joined in the water by Marist College President Kevin Weinman, his wife Beth, and some of Marist’s student-athletes from the swim and water polo teams. It was wonderful to see young people enjoying the river right on their campus. Lewis continued from Marist College, swimming 7 more miles down the river, before returning to the campus for a fireside Q&A with Kevin and Dan Shapley from Riverkeeper. They spoke about the river’s importance, its Indigenous roots, and our collective role in protecting waterways like the Hudson. At 22:05, Lewis headed back out for a nightswim, covering a further 4 miles. Cumulative distance: 255 miles.
On Monday, Lewis swam 7 miles from Port Ewen Water and Sewer Department to West Park in the town of Esopus. During this session, the John J. Harvey, a 1931 retired FDNY fireboat that fought the 9/11 fires for over 72 hours in 2001, pulled alongside and did a water salute in honour of the Hudson Swim. At 14:30, Lewis and the team headed to the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston for a special ceremony with Chief Vincent Mann of the Ramapough Lenape Turtle Clan to welcome the team to Lenape territory. After being smudged with the smoke of cleansing herbs, and drum songs representing the heartbeat of the earth, the ceremony allowed space for reflection, song, and a gift exchange, symbolising our shared commitment to live at peace with each other and the planet. To end off a busy day, Lewis did a night swim, covering around 3.9 miles. Cumulative distance: 244 miles.
On Sunday, Lewis swam 8 miles from Saugerties Lighthouse to Clifton Point in Kingston. At Kingston, the team anchored near the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Dedicated to the preservation and exploration of the maritime history of the area, the property also serves as a winter Home Port for Clearwater Sloop. During the morning swim, Lewis was joined by six local kayakers from Kingston, who accompanied him for a portion of his swim down the river. As they approached Kingston, the vibrant energy of the annual Irish festival filled the streets (and river), bringing the town to life. After the morning out in the hot sun, Lewis and the team recuperated on the boat and discussed logistics before heading out for a night swim from 20:41 to 22:03. Cumulative distance: 233 miles.
On Saturday, after a short night’s sleep, Lewis and the team headed out on an early morning swim from Silver Point. Lewis covered a distance of 6 miles, reaching the Saugerties Lighthouse by 12:00 local time. During the swim, Lewis faced a wind against tide, where the southerly winds met the outgoing tide, resulting in choppy waters and big waves. The team also had to navigate a tugboat pushing two loaded barges and get out of the way in time. Cumulative distance: 220 miles.
On Friday, Lewis and the team started swimming from Meadow Ridge on Hudson at 08:45 local time. To take advantage of the morning tide cycle and avoid long commutes, Lewis combined two swim sessions into one, covering 9.6 miles to reach Catskill Marina. Given the moon's current phase, the spring tide is on the wane. Seizing the fast tide while it lasts, Lewis completed his first evening swim from Catskill Park and Boat Ramp to Silver Point. Cumulative distance: 215 miles.
On Thursday, Lewis and the team had another early morning start, leaving the Schuylerville base just after sunrise. Diving in from the Bronk Island Unique Area, Lewis swam 6.8 miles to Meadow Ridge on Hudson. Lewis typically covers the day's required distance in two separate sessions, but after this longer morning swim, the team made its way to the Ingalls Avenue Boat Launch in North Troy for an event with Riverkeeper and the Media Sanctuary’s Water Justice Lab. After a demonstration on how they test the river water for sewage content, Lewis was interviewed by Media Sanctuary intern Aljahraun Wright about his experience of the Hudson Swim so far and shed some insights on community and water issues in the area. Cumulative distance: 200 miles.
On Wednesday, August 30, Lewis and the team made their way back to Castleton Boat Club, where they met the Castleton on Hudson Mayor, Joe Keegan. After chatting about the local history of the area and Lewis’s swim, the team headed to Henry Hudson Town Park to start swimming. From Henry Hudson Town Park, Lewis swam 4.6 miles to Ravena Coeymans Yacht Club. During this morning session, Lewis came across more plastic pollution in the river, swimming straight into the plastic cup you see in the photo below. Driving home at around 10:30, Lewis and the team spent a few hours at the base refuelling and recovering before swimming out from Ravena Coeymans Yacht Club at 17:34. At the Yacht Club, AP media journalists met Lewis on board the team’s rib, documenting a segment of his journey. While swimming with the tides naturally demands earlier starts and tiring evening sessions, at least each day ends with a beautiful sunset on the river. Cumulative distance: 192 miles.
On Tuesday, Lewis swam strategically using both tides to maxim advantage. The team set off from the Schuylerville base at 05:30 local time, eating breakfast en route. At 07:00, they reached the Rensselaer County Sewer District, where Lewis began his swim to Sprague Energy in Albany. About 20 minutes into his swim, two kayakers joined the core swim team, following Lewis through downtown Albany. From Sprague Energy, Lewis made his way to the Albany Rowing Centre for a press event with Mayor of Albany, Kathy Sheehan, to mark the halfway point of the Hudson Swim. The media, members of the Albany Rowing team, and supporters had questions for Lewis about the swim so far.
After a lunch break, the team headed to the Albany Yacht Club, where Lewis was interviewed by WNYT News Channel 13. At 17:00, he got back into the river at Sprague Energy, swimming until he reached Bear Island at 19:00. At multiple points, the smell of fuel signalled effluent waste in the river. The team also noted increased amounts of floating plastic. Both seemed out of place with a golden sunset and circling bald eagles. Closing the day on a high note, the Castleton Boat Club extended a warm welcome, with its members celebrating Lewis and the team's achievements. Cumulative distance: 183 miles.
On Monday, Lewis began the day with a radio interview with WFUV News. Post-interview, Lewis and the team travelled back to Lock C1 in Waterford, where a group of supporters waited, ready to boost their spirits. At the lock, the team also met with David Borton, an avid Hudson enthusiast and the genius behind Solar Sal Boats. These are no ordinary vessels; they're entirely solar-powered. Impressively, David created the first such boat to earn a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection to take passengers for hire. Throughout the day, David and his friends on the solar boat kept pace with Lewis, providing much needed motivation. From Lock C1, Lewis embarked on a 5.3-mile swim to Troy Lock. After refuelling with lunch near the lock, he faced an interesting experience: swimming through the lock itself. Under the watchful eye of the lock masters, Lewis witnessed the water level plummet by 14 feet before the southern doors ushered him back into the Hudson. His journey didn't stop there.
From Troy, Lewis swam 5.6 miles on the river, concluding the day at Rensselaer County Sewer District. A note on the river's conditions: visibility was reduced, and recent rains introduced a significant amount of debris, including floating logs and grass, into the Hudson's flow. Cumulative distance: 173 miles.
On Sunday, Lewis and the team kicked off the day with a 1.9 mile run to Stillwater Blockhouse. They found the banks of the river littered with plastic and did a quick clean-up before jumping in. From the Blockhouse, Lewis swam 1.8 miles to Lock C3 in Mechanicville on the Champlain Canal. Lewis then ran 1.3 miles to the Mechanicville City Docks, where he got back in the water and swam 1.9 miles to Lock C2 in Mechanicville. Here the river's colour shifted markedly, from clear enough for the paddler's blade to be visible beneath the surface, to a murky light brown, topped with a layer of scum. Along this stretch there were more signs instructing people to catch and release any fish caught in the area due to high levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the water. One of the locals (who the team met on their hike up to Lake Tear of the Clouds) advised Lewis and the team to steer clear of the riverbank mud, warning that unseen hazards could be lurking beneath it.
At this point Lewis hit the halfway mark on the Hudson Swim, with a cumulative distance of 162 miles! "Today, I passed the half-way mark," he said of the momentous milestone. "But with fatigue setting in, the real swim is just starting". After a lunch break at Lock C2, Lewis swam 3.8 miles to Lock C1 in Waterford. On the way home, the team stopped by Cohoes Falls on the Mohawk River, the Mahicannituck’s (Hudson's) largest tributary. Like the Mahicannituck, the Mohawk River shares an equally rich indigenous heritage. Click here to learn more about its incredible story.
Saturday, August 26, was a long swimming day for Lewis. In the first session of the day, Lewis swam 4.7 miles to Stillwater River Front Park. Around 20 minutes into the first session, Lewis swam into a bed of aquatic plants (either water hyacinth or water chestnuts). These invasive plants form leafy patches on the surface of the river that choke waterways and suffocate fish and other aquatic life. When excess nutrients, like agricultural runoff, enter a river, they stimulate the growth of aquatic plants like the water hyacinth, leading to high biomass. The team also came across signage instructing people to catch and release fish caught in the area due to high levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the water. Signs of our impact are everywhere.
The fatigue is starting to set in, so taking breaks and resting where possible is becoming crucial for Lewis. After a quick cat nap and lunch stop, Lewis got back in the river and swam 5 miles to Stillwater Bridge, finishing off the day at around 16:30. The cumulative distance for the day was 151 miles - the half-way mark is in sight!
On Friday, Lewis and the team covered 10 miles. Leaving from near the southern end of Thompson Island, Lewis swam 4.8 miles to the Lock C6 in Greenwich. Unable to swim through the lock, Lewis ran 0.8 miles around it. After the short interval on foot, he swam 4.3 miles to Hudson Crossing Park next to Lock C5. The team had lunch at the park and met a few supporters from the area as well as park volunteers, who shared stories about the region's history and the Battle of Saratoga. These meet-and-greets never get old - every encounter is special and the lore is always fascinating. Lewis is so grateful for the local support, it really spurs him on! After the lunch break, Lewis swam 4.3 miles to Belle Vue Pond and River Haven campsite.
On Thursday, Lewis and the team hit the road, covering 1.6 miles to Fort Edward Yacht Basin to kickstart Day 12. From there, Lewis got into the river and swam 3.5 miles to just below Colonel Sidney Berry House. After a quick lunch break, Lewis continued swimming another 3.5 miles to the south end of Thompson Island. With 8.6 miles under their belt for the day, Lewis and the team met with Dan Lundquist, a local Riverkeeper who has been testing the water quality in the Hudson for a number of years and is an advocate for the river’s health.
On Wednesday, Lewis began his day with some media engagements before heading out to the Hudson River Boat Launch in Queensbury to start his swim at 09:30 local time. He swam 3 miles to the Feeder Dam, where he got out and ran with the team to Haviland Cove Beach. From there Lewis got back in the water and continued swam another 1.4 miles to the Murray Street Canoe Access Point. An enthusiastic group of supporters was waiting to greet him with colourful signs and messages of encouragement. After a heartwarming meet and greet, Lewis and the team ran 5.5 miles on the Canalway Trail (a welcome break from tar roads and thick forests) to just below Bakers Falls Dam, where they ended the day.
On Tuesday, Lewis started the day with media interviews, after which he and the team made their way to Spier Falls Boat Ramp, where Lewis swam 0.9 miles to just before the Spier Falls Dam. Unable to swim in the dam, Lewis ran 0.8 miles around it and then swam 2.4 miles to the Queensbury Water Department.
At the treatment plant, Lewis was met by Chris Harrington, Water Superintendent and Director of Wastewater at the facility. Chris gave the team a tour of the plant, explaining the different processes the river water goes through to become drinkable. He also covered the history of the water quality in the Hudson, and how people's perceptions and relationships with their drinking water have evolved over time. Lewis then ran 2.6 miles on the road around the Queensbury Water Department, and then swam 2.7 miles to the Hudson River Park, just below the Adirondack Northway bridge.
On Monday, Lewis and the team started with a run to Elm’s Cottage in Luzerne. Getting into the water there at 10:00 local time, Lewis swam for 5.2 miles until he reached the beach near the Corinth Free Library, where a group of 50 locals and swim supporters welcomed him onshore. It was great to connect and hear about the area’s history and why the swim was special to them.
After taking some pictures, Lewis and the team headed over to Deb’s restaurant, ‘The Barn’ and were treated to a generous spread of delicious food. Town historian Rachael Clothier shared more about Corinth's history. (If you're curious, the "Corinth Museum" page on Facebook is worth a visit.) From there, Lewis and the core swim team hiked to the bottom of Curtis Palmer Dam and then swam 3.5 miles to Spier Falls.
On Sunday Lewis picked up where he left off not far from Buttermilk Brook and continued his swim down the Hudson River for 6 miles. With ideal conditions he maintained a pace of 3.7 miles per hour. Along the way, he was cheered on by enthusiastic supporters, waiting on the river bank with signs. Two locals, Josh and Linda, also joined expedition videographer Michael Booth and safety kayaker Nic Burden on the river, having paddled 8 kilometres upstream just to find them. Getting the mileage done in one session, Lewis ended the day just before Luzerne at 15:41 local time. A group of about 10-15 people were waiting to welcome Lewis out of the water. They gathered with the team for photos, marking another successful day of the Hudson Swim 2023.
On Saturday, Lewis ran along the river on Stony Creek Road, leaving from Glen-Hudson Campground. After covering 5.4 miles, he returned to base and spoke to BBC World Service (you can listen to the episode here from 14:00). After lunch he and the team filmed a Q&A, answering questions from his followers on social media, after which he got back in the water where he had left off and swam 2 more fast miles to just past Buttermilk Brook. Lewis described the swim as “one of the best days of swimming in my life”. Safety kayaker Nic Burden and expedition photographer Kelvin Trautman followed Lewis in the water, helping him avoid rocks and navigate the channels.
On Friday, Lewis and the team's first running session along the river ended with a warm welcome from some wonderful supporters. Bob, Anne, and Shohreh met Lewis and the Foundation team at Glen Bridge, fresh fruit and cold water in hand. Bob and Anne came up a few days prior in anticipation of Lewis’s arrival, and Shohreh travelled all the way from Albany—a 75-mile journey! It's moments like these that keep our spirits high.
Setting off again at 14:30, Lewis returned to Glen Bridge and ran 6 miles to Glen-Hudson campground. Following him from the river, safety kayaker Nic Burden and campaign writer Sarah Rumboll braved the river’s rapids. For anyone doubting whether the river in that area was swimmable, Sarah and Nic can testify: the water is choppy and very shallow in places with rocks jutting through the surface. On the river bank, Nic and Sarah spotted more Hudson Swim 2023 supporters with handmade banners saying: ‘Swim Lewis, Swim!’ With the second running session of the day done, Lewis was relieved to be just that bit closer to getting back in the water.
On Thursday Lewis laced up his running shoes and headed out from North Creek Bridge for another morning of running. Although the river looked swimmable in some sections, it was still too shallow and fast with rapids in the North Creek area. After completing a 6.2-mile running session, Lewis joined the team for lunch and a quick rest.
Band-aided up and ready to go, Lewis set off running again, bringing him to Riparius and his daily total to 14.4 miles. At Riparius, the team were met by a small group of people – one of whom came all the way from Albany, 75 miles away. It was an exciting moment for the team to see supporters starting to show up and cheer Lewis on!
On Wednesday the team set out at 08:00 local time to start from where they had left off the day before. Unlike the previous day, this stretch of the river was too shallow for Lewis to swim, so to continue making headway he used the old railway track that runs alongside the Hudson. The team saw a black bear in the distance and a snake, which our skipper and river expert Sean Makofsky identified as a garter snake, one of the most widespread snake species in North America.
For any onlookers, the sight of Lewis in his Speedo on the abandoned track must have been interesting, to say the least! After a brief 30-minute break on the tracks, the team continued on foot, covering a total distance of 12 miles by day's end.
On Tuesday the core swim team picked up right where they left off the day before, meeting Dave Olbert, CloudSplitter's seasoned Hudson River guide, at his shop in Newcomb. Once Lewis was in the water, the rest of the team trailed him down the river in Dave’s raft for 6.8 miles.
After stopping for a quick break at the Iron Bridge, Lewis pressed on towards Black Toe Falls. Facing turbulent rapids ahead, Lewis got out of the water, navigating eastward through dense forest terrain. Covering 10 miles in total at the end of day 3, the team made significant progress, and Lewis was happy to be back in his element—the water.
On Monday Lewis and the team set out early and headed to the Adirondack High Peaks wilderness area. After a short run along sections where the river was not swimmable, Lewis got back into the water and swam for just over a mile.
Nic Burden, the team's safety kayaker, was able to get into the river for the first time and followed Lewis for the 20-minute stint. For the team watching on the bank, his fluorescent green kayak was hard to miss! When the river became too shallow for swimming, Lewis got out and ran alongside the bank. Later that day, Lewis took to the road again, running for 6.4 miles. He ended his day in the town of Newcomb.
On Sunday 13th August, after a night of camping in a heavy downpour, Lewis made his way to the Hudson Rivers's true source, Lake Tear of the Clouds. Here, the expedition officially began. The team continued on foot to the entrance of the Adirondack High Peaks wilderness area.
Want to show your support for rivers? Add your name to Lewis Pugh's open letter calling on world leaders to prioritize healthy rivers as part of their commitment to protecting 30% of land, inland waters and oceans by 2030.
Visit iheartrivers.com for more practical steps to restore and protect rivers.
Lewis started his swim at the Hudson’s source in Lake Tear of the Clouds, high in the wild Adirondack Mountains on the flank of Mt Marcy, and will finish where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean in New York City.
He will take us on a journey from the stirring wilderness of upstate New York to one of the most iconic cities in the world. The swim is 315 miles (507 km) and is expected to take four weeks to complete.
Along the route Lewis will engage with river users, not just on the Hudson River, but along other major rivers around the world through linked events.
The Hudson River tells an archetypal story. From its wilderness beginnings to its metropolitan ending in New York City, the Hudson tells a story of how a river can be misused and damaged, then cared for by a citizenry passionate about turning the fate of its river around.
Over the past centuries, much of the Hudson’s catchment area was deforested in the rush to harvest timber; today, some parts of that catchment have been replanted and rewilded.
Forty years ago many parts of the river were considered dangerously polluted; now, though there is still much work to be done, the river is considerably cleaner – an astonishing fact, given that its outlet is at one of the world’s busiest cities.
“The Hudson River is one river that can speak for all rivers.” - Lewis Pugh
The United Nations Headquarters is in Manhattan, near the mouth of the Hudson River. This gathering of world representatives symbolically connects the Hudson River with all the world’s rivers.
Which is why Lewis Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans, will end his swim here, in the lead up to the UN General Assembly Week, Climate Week NYC 2023, and the UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit.
Press event - New York City
Expedition start - Lake Tear of the Clouds
Expedition finish - Battery Park, Manhattan
13 - 17 September
Post swim media engagements
18 - 24 September
UN General Assembly Week and Climate Week NYC 2023
UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit
World Rivers Day
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The Lewis Pugh Foundation is a registered charity in England & Wales.
Charity Registration no. 1168977.