Spending hours in the water daily, Lecomte has been up close and personal with the impact that pollution is having on sea life.
“It’s more important now than ever that we make it to the Great Garbage Patch,” he said. “I want to show people why our oceans are so important.”
Traversing Earth’s largest body of water takes energy, and Lecomte consumes 8,000 calories a day in order to fuel his grueling swimming routine. Ben plunges into the ocean at around 8:00 am each day. During his time in the water, he eats only soup and bread that is prepared at 4:00 am by Yoav Nevo, who is also the boat’s skipper.
The adventure also takes courage and resilience. Bouts of motion sickness and dropping into the cold waters of the Pacific each day test not only Lecomte's physical abilities, but also his mental endurance.
Although he is swimming along the Kuroshio Current, which flows northward from the west side of the North Pacific, he’s had to endure unfavorable swimming conditions throughout his expedition.
“I’ve never been in a situation yet where I’ve had the wind and the waves in my favor,” he said. “When I swim, I like to have the waves going in my direction, with me, and also the wind to go in the direction I swim. I’ve never been in that situation yet.”
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As if fighting the forces of the world’s fiercest ocean isn’t enough, the path along which Lecomte is swimming is also a major international shipping channel. Fourteen days into the swim, a large tanker came precariously close to Ben while he was in the water. The crew contacted the ship, offering GPS coordinates in order to avoid a mishap.
Lecomte is an experienced long-distance swimmer. In 1998, he swam across the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to France, with a one-week stopover in the Azores. Like his current swim, which aims to raise awareness about ocean conservation issues, his Atlantic effort also had a social purpose: to raise awareness about cancer following the death of his father.
In the water, swimming among the ocean’s wide array of species, Lecomte reflected on the majesty of the Pacific ecosystem.
“You don’t feel like you’re in pain anymore,” he said. “You feel very privileged and honored to be in that space and realize that there are many, many things that we don’t know — many, many things that we haven’t experienced and are magical and beautiful.”