Ben Lecomte is, as far as we can tell, not actually insane, but he has lived most of his life in Texas, and that adds up.
For proof, Lecomte is, right now this minute, attempting to swim from Japan to San Francisco. If he makes it alive, he’ll have covered 5,500 miles, which he expects will take about six months. Lecomte hopes to draw attention to the pollution — especially of plastics — in the oceans.
From NBC News:
“The ocean is in peril right now,” Lecomte said in a statement before starting the swim. “It has never been done, to collect data from one end of the ocean to the other. … I have been dreaming, eating, sleeping that idea. Now it’s reality.”
You’re wondering about the logistics of this. To state the obvious, Lecompte, who was born in France, will not be swimming nonstop for six straight months. That would definitely kill him. He plans to swim eight hours a day, and rest on a 67-foot yacht that is following him along the way, and contains a crew for monitoring his physical and mental health. He’s also wearing a bracelet that will supposedly ward off sharks, along with a wet suit, snorkel and fins.
Nobody has ever swam the Pacific before, though Lecomte did swim from Massachusetts to France in 1998. For years, that was going to be it for Lecomte, but his concern for the ocean won out.
He began planning the second ocean crossing more than six years ago and persuaded a dozen research organizations to support and monitor his voyage. Among the scientific backers is the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
A group of scientists trained at Woods Hole in Massachusetts plan to draw on ocean samples taken every day or two from the Discoverer. They will be looking for how sea organisms interact with plastic contamination, in what they call the “plastisphere” — the zone where organic and man-made material come together.
The samples and DNA from organisms that attach to plastic will be preserved, according to an online description of the research. The scientists hope to answer a number of questions, including: What organisms are living on this new man-made substrate out in the ocean? How are the microbes and animals that colonize the plastic affecting it? Are they breaking it down? Are they making it sink?
You can follow along with Lecomte via this live tracker.
“Did you ever dream, asleep or awake, of being the main character in an epic adventure? “ says the essay, titled “Why Swim Across the Pacific Ocean?” “Let’s be honest, we’ve all fantasized about it, even if only for a second, even if we didn’t dare to share those dreams with anyone else.”