Published: Tue, June 05, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Frenchman Ben Lecomte begins 'longest swim' across the Pacific

Frenchman Ben Lecomte begins 'longest swim' across the Pacific

The 51-year-old long distance swimmer set off from Japan's east coast on Tuesday in a bid to become the first person to swim across the world's largest expanse of water. He was joined for the first 100 metres by his 17-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

Mr Lecomte, who plans to swim eight hours a day, will eat, rest and sleep on a boat which will accompany him before being dropped off every morning to where he stopped swimming the previous evening.

Six years in the planning, the 5,500-mile effort is expected to take five to six months, with Lecomte swimming eight hours a day and covering an average of 30 miles daily, according to his website.

"It is mind over matter", said Lecomte, who is also an architectural consultant based in Austin, Texas when not in the water.

Researchers believe that 92 per cent of the garbage consists of larger pieces of trash, while eight per cent contained microplastics.

But Lecomte says that raising awareness about pollution is more important than setting records. He could face sharks, cold temperatures and storms during the swim.

"When you don't have anything to occupy your mind, it goes into kind of a spiral, and that's when trouble starts", he said.

A year of crisis in the Gulf
It has also long maintained warm ties with Saudi Arabia's archrival Iran , with which it shares a large underwater gas field. Saudi Arabia is the largest Gulf country, has the largest population, economy and army and much of the region's crude oil.

In 1998, Lecomte swam across the Atlantic Ocean, starting in MA and finishing in France, the BBC reported.

More than two dozen scientific organisations, medical and oceanographic, will benefit from the data gathered during the expedition.

"Now every time I go with my kids, we see plastic everywhere", added Lecomte, who will also wear a device to test levels of radioactive material from the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant. I remember times when we would go on the beach and walk and never see any plastic.

After successfully completing the Atlantic swim in 1998, Lecomte vowed "never again" to set off on a long-distance sea journey.

His team will collect water samples to learn more about the build-up of micro-plastics littering the area. "It's a problem we created and there is a very easy solution to start reversing it-single-use plastics for example, if we stop using them that will make a big change".

"What is going to be hard is every morning going back in the water (because) you hit a wall, normally after 4-6 hours", he said of the mental challenge.

"It didn't happen very soon after the Atlantic (swim) because I got married, I had children, so I put that aside".

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