On May 31, Benoît Lecomte plans to carry out the most difficult challenge of his life by swimming the 5,468-mile stretch from Tokyo to San Francisco.
In 1998, Lecomte became the first man to swim across the Atlantic, covering over 3,600 miles in 73 days, from Boston to Quiberon. And apparently the sea was calling to him, because he's about to do it all over again, and this time it will be even longer.
Lecomte says he's taking on the challenge in the name of science and to raise awareness about our oceans. "The Longest Swim" is the first citizen-led scientific expedition with the goal of gathering data about the ocean and the human body for eight scientific programs piloted by thirteen institutions, including NASA.
Six years of mental and physical preparation
While swimming across the Pacific Ocean might sound crazy, Lecomte is certainly not going into it unprepared. He will be accompanied 24/7 by an escort boat, an inflatable boat, and nine team members including a kinesiologist, a cardiologist, a nutritionist and several doctors.
In addition, he has been training mentally and physically for the last six years, swimming eight hours per day, to prepare. Each evening, he will board the boat to eat and sleep before starting again in the morning from the point where he left off.
The long-term expedition will make it possible for the team to collect samples that will go into their database.
Along the way, Ben will have the opportunity to collect data on the waste in the Pacific, on radioactive substances leftover from Fukushima, and ocean acidity to get a better understanding of the effects of climate change.
He will also have to be especially careful toward the end of his journey, as he will be passing through a white shark migration area. The swim will also be shared with the public via a satellite connection. You can follow Ben's adventures in real time on The Longest Swim website, and you can interact directly with the team on social media.
Between funding the convoy, promotional campaigns, the equipment and crew, the budget for the swim is approximately $385,000. While a large portion of the swim is being funded by sponsors, money is also being collected on Kickstarter.