Man begins bid to swim Pacific from Japan to San Francisco

08 Juin, 2018, 02:47 | Auteur: Therese Cote
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Mr Lecomte, who previously swam across the Atlantic in 1998, admitted he would probably hit a "wall" after four to six hours of swimming.

A French swimmer has left a beach in eastern Japan, heading out to sea on a mission to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean - and carry out research on plastic pollution at sea.

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.

Mr Lecomte is no stranger to a swim of this nature.

Researchers and support crew members will accompany Lecomte in a yacht called Discoverer, while doctors will monitor Lecomte's condition remotely on land. The biggest test, he said, will be the monotony.

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

Lecomte aims to swim around eight hours a day and will burn off more than 8,000 calories daily in the process.

A Global Positioning System tracker will be fitted to his support boat to allow interested viewers to keep up-to-date with his progress on his website.

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

There is increasing concern among scientists 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".

But Lecomte says that raising awareness about pollution is more important than setting records.

"I remember my father and he was the one who taught me how to swim in the Atlantic".

"When I was little and I was with my father walking on the beach, I didn't see any plastic, or hardly any", Lecomte said in an interview with AFP. "We know what we have to do".

The danger of sharks and paralyzing jellyfish also lurks-but the Texas-based architect tweaks the nose of fear.

"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".

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

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