Lewis Pugh: he swam 348 miles along the length of the English Channel | Photo: Lewis Pugh Facebook

British-South African swimmer Lewis Pugh has successfully swum the length of the English Channel.

The 48-year-old athlete completed "The Long Swim" in 49 days. Pugh wants to raise awareness about the problem of plastic pollution, over-fishing, and the need to strengthen ocean protection across the world.

"I've been swimming out for nearly 50 days and what has really shocked me is what little I have seen in terms of wildlife. There were lots of jellyfish, a few dolphins, a few fish, and birds, but other than that, very very little," said Pugh moments after he arrived at the beach in Dover.

"We now really need to take the health of our oceans very seriously, fully protecting large sections of this coastline, but also around the world."

Lewis Pugh kicked off his 348-mile (560 kilometers) swimming marathon in Cornwall's Land's End and finished the challenge in Dover, Kent.

The UN Environment Patron of Oceans swam the equivalent to 16 back-to-back English Channels and followed the official rules set by the Channel Swimming Association (CSA).

Pugh entered the water every day using goggles, a cap, and a pair of swim briefs only. He had to battle strong currents, rain, swells, marine life, ships, and litter.

The endurance swimmer from Plymouth is the first human to swim the entire length of the English Channel.

"I didn't know if it was possible, but we've made it. The beginning was nice and easy, and warm and flat, but once I've hit the Isle of Wight, from that moment onward it was storm after storm," concluded Pugh.