AUSTIN (KXAN) – Ben Lecomte is the first person ever to free swim across the Atlantic Ocean without the aid of a kick board. In 1998, when Lecomte emerged from the Atlantic in north west France, his first words were “Never again!” to swimming such a large distance.
But it’s hard to keep this athlete out of the water – especially when he has a point to prove. Lecomte wants to raise awareness for environmental sustainability, ahead of the December 2015 UN Climate Conference in France.
Lecomte, 48, is now planning to swim the Pacific Ocean, starting in late September. He’ll leave from Tokyo and arrive an estimated six months—and 1,000 miles—later in San Francisco with the aid of a GPS tracker, electromagnetic equipment to ward off sharks, and a support boat in which he’ll eat and sleep. He had all of that equipment in 1998, though.
This round, he also plans to wear Water Defense Environmental Technology, or a “water bug,” which indicates the conditions of the water he’ll be swimming through. And of course this time he’ll have social media @TheLongestSwim, so that his followers can continue to track his progress and give their support throughout his journey.
During his first swim, Lecomte had to spend about four hours each day consuming the calories he burned his in his eight hour session: 8,000-9,000 calories. He has been stung by jellyfish and followed by a great white shark for five days.
He admits he’s older, now, too, so he won’t have the speed and agility of his first swim. But with age comes maturity, in his opinion, “When you are young, you’re all about instant gratification.” Now he knows the Pacific swim will be all about “mind over matter,” taking the journey “on a day-to-day basis.” Lecomte says, “You are going to be in pain, you are not going to be fast, you are not going to be strong. But you are going to keep on going.”
Lecomte lives in Austin, where he is the Assistant Director of Sustainability Services Practice at ProGEA. He was born in France, but has spent more than 20 years in Texas, saying he fell in love with the state after coming here.
He is attempting to raise a total of $190,000 for this swim. He has an Indiegogo campaign that has raised more than $7,000, but he’s looking to raise $50,000 for the first leg of his trip in the next two weeks. For more on his goal, check out Ben’s website.
Here’s the breakdown of the differences between his last swim and this one:
THEN | NOW
Became the first person to free swim the Atlantic Ocean without a kick board | Will possibly become the first person to free swim the Pacific Ocean without the aid of a kick board
3,716 miles completed | Attempting to complete 5,500 miles
73 days completed | Attempting to complete 180 days
Swam 6-8 hours per day; took a one-week break in the Azores for exhaustion | Attempting to swim 8 hours per day, 7 days a week
31 years old | 48 years old
Boston, Massachusetts to Quiberon, France | Tokyo, Japan to San Francisco, California
Raised money for cancer research, in honor of his father who died of colon cancer | Attempting to raise money for environmental sustainability, in order to leave a cleaner Earth for his two children