Frenchman Ben Lecomte begins 'longest swim' across the Pacific

Friday, 08 Jun, 2018

Battling sharks and jellyfish, the passionate environmentalist hopes his epic mission from Tokyo to San Francisco will raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans - an obstacle that could prove to be his most risky foe. "But I knew I was going to come back to that project eventually".

On his journey he will be crossing a patch of ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area three times the size of France where large amounts of garbage and plastic waste have collected.

One of the challenges will be making sure he has enough energy each day, and Lecomte said he intends to consume 8,000 calories daily.

"Pollution of the ocean has a big impact", said the father-of-two, who will be gathering oceanographic and medical data for 27 scientific organizations, including NASA.

A live tracker on the journey's official website will allow people to follow Lecomte's progress and weather conditions.

Lecomte, whose departure took place on World Environment Day, has said he is concerned about the effect of pervasive plastic pollution on marine ecosystems. "Rather than calling it an island of trash, it is more like plastic smog throughout the ocean".

"To do the physical aspect of it, yea, it is hard, but what is much more hard is to be in that very hostile environment, and the mind has to be super strong", he said. "Now, everywhere I go on the beach, I see plastic everywhere".

The Frenchman, whose Atlantic crossing was never ratified by Guinness World Records because it can not be fully verified that he resumed his swims in the exact point he stopped them the day before, believes the mental battle will be tougher than the physical endurance.

"To do the physical aspect of it, sure it is hard and all that but what is much more hard is to be in that very hostile environment, to do that days in and days out, to push you and to push your limits, then the mind has to be super strong".

Lecomte set off from Tokyo at 9am local time.

"It made me think what [the] future for my kids is going to be like". He could face sharks, cold temperatures and storms during the swim, CBS reported.