Long-Distance Swimmer to Attempt Pacific Ocean Crossing

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In 1998, French-born athlete Benoît Lecomte became the first person to swim 3700 miles across the Atlantic Ocean without a kickboard. Now, The Guardian reports, he’s planning to attempt a Pacific crossing in April 2017.

Lecomte—who announced his goal at the University of Texas at Austin on Thursday, October 6—intends to swim 5500 miles from Tokyo to San Francisco. This isn’t Lecomte’s first try at swimming the Pacific—and if he fails, it likely won’t be his last. The athlete originally wanted to attempt the crossing in May 2013, but those plans were thwarted, as was last year's second planned attempt. Lecomte reportedly had a hard time locating a seaworthy boat and crew, but he now owns a new vessel, the Discoverer, that has competed in an around-the-world yacht race.

During the journey, he plans to spend eight hours a day in the water and the remainder of his time recovering and dining on the boat, which will be manned by an eight-person crew. The vessel will accompany Lecomte for his entire five- to six-month journey, keeping him safe from sharks and other dangerous creatures.

Aside from setting a new world record, Lecomte hopes his transcontinental swim will draw attention to environmental issues, like ocean pollution. (His planned route cuts directly through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.)

“I’ve been doing open-water swims for a very long time and I have seen the changes in the ocean, the environment,” Lecomte said in a statement quoted by The Guardian. “More plastic, less fish, and every time I swim with my kids I always think about what type of world I am going to leave behind. It became very clear to me that the only way to go forward was to use my passion to get attention on an issue that affects all of us.”

Lecomte’s crew will gather scientific samples along the journey, which they will give to oceanographers once they reach dry land. As for the swimmer himself, he'll be looking out for something else: sharks. He hopes to spot them during the crossing, as their presence is a good indicator of ocean health.

You can learn more about Lecomte's crossing on his website.

[h/t The Guardian]

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