Sunday, July 15, 2007

Secret weapon of Lewis Gordon Pugh , "human polar bear" to withstand extreme temperatures!

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Today, this man will be attempting to swim 1km at the Geographic North Pole in -1.8°C water – the coldest waters on earth. His 1km swim would kill most men - yet Lewis Gordon Pugh has a secret weapon.

Piers Hernu takes the plunge alongside him to find out how he survives.

There are some people so extraordinary and so expert in their field that you would entrust your life to them. British maritime lawyer Lewis Gordon Pugh, 37, by some margin the world's most extraordinary swimmer, is one of those people.

Known as the "human polar bear", Lewis has swum (wearing only his Speedos, goggles and a cap) where no man has swum before.

He's submerged himself in all five of the world's oceans, including the Arctic and Antarctic, in conditions that would kill almost any other human being.

And he's astonished and confounded medical experts with his almost supernatural ability to withstand extreme temperatures.

Lewis is possessed of a superhuman – bordering on the superheroic – ability to raise his body temperature when faced with the prospect of icy water.

It was first observed by his team-mate Tim Noakes, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, and dubbed "anticipatory thermogenesis".

It appears to be a Pavlovian response – the sight of cold water sends his pulse soaring and his body temperature rises from 37°C to 38.4°C (100°F) in 15 minutes, something that would take a top cyclist some 30 minutes of hard pedalling to achieve. Link

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