Thursday, December 06, 2018

Long-Distance Swimmer Ben Lecomte Suspends Attempt to Cross Pacific Ocean

Since last June we've been keeping a close eye on the progress of long-distance swimmer Ben Lacomte as he attempts to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean. That undertaking has not been an easy one as the Frenchman has had to deal with a number of unexpected challenges ranging from poor weather, mechanical issues with his support ship, and gear failures along the way. Today he made the tough decision to suspend the swim as dangerous storms bear down on his position.

When Lecomte began this undertaking he estimated that it would take him roughly six to eight months to complete the 8850 km (5500 mile) swim. But difficult conditions and several delays have slowed his progress considerably. So much so that we're now nearly to the six month mark and he hasn't reached the halfway point as of yet. In fact, in the past month he's covered just 800 km (497 miles).

Worse yet, two major typhoons are now bearing down on his position in the Pacific, making it extremely dangerous to be out on the water. Because of this, he has decided to press pause on the Pacific swim and return to his starting point in Yokohama, Japan.

In a statement regarding the halting of the journey Lecomte seems realistic about what is happening."The weather, there's nothing I can change about it,"he says "I'm not going to stress about it. I'm not going to put thought into it. It is what it is, and that's all."

Lecomte, who has already successful swum across the Atlantic Ocean, undertook this challenge in an effort to raise awareness of the threats to the Earth's oceans. While crossing the Pacific he and his team have remarked often about how much garbage and plastic they see on a daily basis. The Pacific in particular has been a dumping ground for trash for decades and now it is dramatically impacting the environment there. Efforts are underway to try to address this issue, but it could also take decades to clean it up too. Meanwhile, the micro-plastics in the water are being consumed by all kinds of sea life, great and small. 

There is no word as to if or when Lecomte will resume swimming once again, although he says that he remains as determined as ever to continue the crossing. If the the weather clears and the major storms move on, he may return to his starting point and begin again soon. But my feeling is that it could be some time before he returns to the water. 

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