Robert Swan was born on July 28, 1956, in Durham, England and is the first person in history to walk to the North and South Poles. He attended Aysgarth School and then proceeded to Sedbergh School in 1969-1974. He completed his BA in History majoring in 1976-1979 at St Chad College, Durham University.
Success in completing the North and South expeditions marked the beginning of a new phase in his life. On both expeditions, he experienced directly the effects of environmental damage on the Polar ice cap.
After seeing firsthand the impact of Climate Change on setting foot in the north and south poles, Robert is committed to devoting himself to protecting Antarctica and the planet as a whole. The positive participation he has made with the team committed to supporting his mission has enabled Robert to educate and inspire people all over the world.
His contribution to education and the environment has been recognized through his appointment as Ambassador to the United Nations, as a Professor at the University of Leeds and in 1994 he became Special Envoy to the Director-General at UNESCO.
Swan’s purpose in life is for the preservation of Antarctica as the world’s last largest wilderness. He then founded 2041, an organization dedicated to Antarctica. With its presence and integrity, Robert Swan proved to have an amazing ability to move people and motivate all audiences who listened to his lectures.
Through his expeditions and lectures, Swan wants to convey, involve, and inspire future generations of leaders to be responsible and realize that now is the time to act in the future development of policy and technology.
“You will fail” and “you will die” is a reaction Robert Swan often receives when He speaks of his dream to walk to the South Pole at that time. Everyone knows words have the power in shutting down or discouraging someone. If Swan listens to them, he will probably never make his dream come true.
Instead, he ignores the negative words and concentrates on the positive ones. It turned out that his strong intentions ended sweetly, as he became the first person in history to walk to the North and South Poles. “Never forget your dreams, I see people forget their dreams, and then one day they wake up and ask – so that’s it,” Swan said in some of his seminars.
Swan said that he was first inspired to walk to both poles when he saw a movie in Antarctica at age 11. Others laugh at his dream but his brothers encourage him to keep doing it.
Robert Swan and his team named their first expedition to the South Pole “In the Footsteps of Scott”, after Terra Nova’s Robert Scott Expedition in the early 20th century. Scott and his four colleagues made it to the South Pole but died on their way back because of a combination of exhaustion, famine, and extremely cold weather.
The Swan trip to the South Pole began in 1984. For 70 days they had to keep walking for nine hours every day. Three of the teams had to carry 180 kilograms of load without any radio communications with the outside world and use only the sun as the only means of navigation.
In those 70 days, he has lost as much as 33kg. His eyes have also changed color due to the long exposure to the hole in the ozone layer. In the end, they can stand on the South geomagnetic pole, Swan and his team cannot be more proud of what they have accomplished. In 1992, he finally became the first person to walk to the North and South Poles.
The coldest day Swan has ever experienced is -72 degrees Celsius, at a temperature where sweat turns to ice. Swan and his team had to undergo intense physical preparation before they started on the unassisted march to the South Pole.
In November 2017, he performed the South Pole Energy Challenge. This is the first expedition to travel into 600 miles to the South Pole with Barney Swan, his son whose accompany his travel.
Currently, he is one of the supporters for Antarctic protection. Besides being the founder of 204, he is also co-author with Gil Reavill of Antarctica 2041: Saves the last desert of the earth. Robert Swan advises us as the next generation to always dare to make changes.