Lewis Pugh was greeted by Michael Gove, after completing his “long swim” from Land’s End to Dover on Wednesday afternoon.
The 48-year-old made his arrival at Dover’s Shakespeare Beach at 1.35pm, officially marking the end of his 49-day long, 330-mile feat.
The endurance swimmer completed the task to highlight the plight of polluted oceans and the environment secretary was among the people who greeted him at the finish line.
After arriving on the pebbled beach, Pugh said he was “exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure”.
Speaking shortly after Pugh made it to the shore, Gove told Sky News the swimmer is “a modern day hero”.
“Everything he’s done is just so inspirational,” he said. “The Long Swim has brought to everyone’s attention how important our seas are.
“It has taken enormous dedication and he’s an inspiration to us all.”
Members of the public were also there to meet the swimmer at the completion of his feat, which saw Pugh become the first person to ever swim the length of the channel.
Pugh previously explained that he wanted to complete the challenge – wearing only swimming trunks, googles and a cap – to urge the government to protect UK waters better.
Just seven square kilometres out of 750,000 of UK coast waters are currently fully-protected.
Pugh, a UN Patron of the Oceans, has also taken part in beach cleans along the way.
Before starting, he told the Press Association: “My message is going to be very, very simple: our oceans are in crisis.
“Unless we take real, serious action now, it’s very difficult for me to see how they can recover.
“It’s not something you can keep putting off and putting off and putting off. We’ve done that for too long.”
His swim was observed and verified by the Channel Swimming Association.