Professional long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte has set off from Japan’s east coast on Tuesday aiming to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean.
The 51-year-old Frenchman is set to swim for eight hours a day for more than six months as he heads towards San Francisco in order to complete a 5,500-mile journey.
During the challenge, the long-distance swimmer will face dangers such as sharks, swarms of jellyfish, storms and extremely low water temperatures.
Preparations for this trip have taken more than six years.
Physical and scientific challenge
According to spokesperson Alexander Borreil, Lecomte left at 8 a.m. from Choshi, Chiba Prefecture.
‘For the moment we know he left and everything went well,’ Borreil said.
Lecomte is traveling alongside a boat carrying a six-person scientific crew on a route that includes the Great Pacific garbage patch and the white shark migration area.
The team accompanying the Frenchman will collect more than 1,000 water samples and study plastic pollution, mammal migration and the effect of extreme endurance events on the human body.
According to a report by the NPR, scientific partners, including NASA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, have provided equipment for the swimmer’s crew to conduct research on his body and the ocean along the way.
Lecomte and his crew are hoping to raise awareness for climate change.
‘The ocean is in peril,’ the Frenchman says. ‘I think it's my duty to use my passion to make a little change.’
Back in 1988, the long-distance swimmer completed a similar test across the Atlantic Ocean.