Swimmer Begins Record Japan-California Attempt

Frenchman plans to swim 8 hours a day
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2018 11:05 AM CDT
Updated Jun 9, 2018 11:30 AM CDT
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Ben Lecomte adjusts his suit during swimming practice in Los Angeles.   (Ben Lecomte group AKK The Longest Swim via AP)
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(Newser) – Ben Lecomte has set off from Japan in an effort to swim to California, undaunted by sharks, low temperatures, fierce weather, a gigantic garbage patch—and the fact that nobody has even swum across the Pacific before. But the 51-year-old Frenchman has the right experience to attempt the record-breaking open-water swim: He completed the first solo swim across the Atlantic in 73 days in 1998, swearing "never again" when he reached land, the BBC reports. This time, he says he has been practicing open-water swimming for hours every day to deal with the physical challenges, and "visualization and dissociation" to occupy his mind during the long hours of swimming.

Lecomte, who now lives in Texas, tweeted Monday that he'd been preparing for the swim for six years. He plans to swim for eight hours a day and sleep on an accompanying boat with a six-person crew—and will use GPS to make sure that he sets off each day from where he finished the night before. He plans to use the swim to raise awareness of climate change and ocean pollution. His crew will collect around 1,000 water samples for scientific partners. Lecomte tells NPR that his children will join him for the last leg of the 5,500-mile journey from Choshi, near Tokyo, to San Francisco. "They are with me right now, they were on the boat last night with me and they are going to be on the boat tonight, and love it," he says. "We swim very often together, so we share the same passion." (A 9-year-old swam from San Francisco to Alcatraz and back.)

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