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Swimmer Ends 'Very Disturbing' Journey

Benoit Lecomte has a message for the world
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2018 4:25 PM CST
In this undated image released by the Ben Lecomte group A.K.K The Longest Swim, Ben Lecomte adjusts his suit during swimming practices in Los Angeles, Calif.   (Ben Lecomte group A.K.K The Longest Swim via AP)

(Newser) – A swimmer's record-breaking effort may be on hold, but his warning endures: There's way too much plastic out there. Benoît "Ben" Lecomte set foot on Oahu, Hawaii on Monday, conclusively ending his dream of being the first swimmer to cross the Pacific Ocean, per CNN. A storm broke the mainsail of his support ship in November, forcing the 51-year-old to declare defeat. But he still hopes to swim to San Francisco and has much to tell about his journey. "The ocean is in peril right now," he says in a blog kept by his crew. "If we don't do something that is going to reverse that in the next few years then it's going to be much more difficult."

Swimming eight hours a day, Lecomte says he often saw big pieces of floating plastic. "A lot of it is something that we all use at home," he tells KHON. "To see that with sea life, that was very disturbing." His crew regularly gathered 100 plastic pieces per half hour by net, and at times saw plastic floating every three minutes. Lecomte, a sustainability consultant, says people can help save the oceans by recycling and giving up single-use plastic bags. As for his own well-being, the swimmer who embarked from Choshi, Japan on June 5 is still getting his landlegs—literally. "My legs are a little shaky," he says. "I'm not used to having something stable but it feels good. I grabbed some sand with my hand to feel the earth." (Read more swimmer stories.)

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