Man swimming across Pacific Ocean is UTSA alum

Benoit Lecomte aims to raise pollution awareness

By JESSIE YEUNG, CNN, RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator
Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images via CNN

French swimmer Benoit Lecomte begins his attempt of swimming across the Pacific Ocean in Choshi, Japan on June 5, 2018, surrounded by his children.

(CNN) - A French swimmer who is attempting to swim across the Pacific Ocean is also representing UTSA Roadrunners around the world. 

Benoit "Ben" Lecomte, 51, received a degree from the UTSA's College of Business in 1995.

According to a 2012 UTSA press release, Lecomte earned a bachelor's degree in marketing from UTSA before he earned a master's degree in architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington.  

Lecomte is quoted in the article as saying he came to San Antonio after moving from France to the United States.

"My parents always exposed us to different cultures and taught us that it was important to follow our dreams. They were behind me when I decided to come to the states," Lecomte said. "I started out at San Antonio College and transferred over to UTSA graduating with a degree in business in 1995."

NEW JOURNEY

Lecomte's latest journey is taking him through a swath of the ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in a bid to raise awareness of plastic pollution.

Lecomte set off from his starting point of Chshi, Japan, aiming to reach San Francisco, 5,500 miles away.

To accomplish his goal of becoming the first person to swim the Pacific, Lecomte will need to swim for eight hours a day for six months, with an average of 30 miles a day.

Lecomte, the associate director of sustainability services at a consulting firm, is hoping the endeavor will double as a scientific study on climate change, health, and pollution.

Researchers from 12 scientific institutions, including NASA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will be conducting studies and gathering samples throughout his swim.

The researchers will focus on eight areas of interest, which include radiation from the Fukushima disaster and the swim's effects on Lecomte's heart and psychological state.

They will also conduct research on plastic pollution as Lecomte passes through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area three times the size of France where plastic and debris have accumulated.

Researchers and support crew members will accompany Lecomte in a yacht called Discoverer, while doctors will monitor Lecomte's condition remotely on land.

After each day's eight-hour swim, Lecomte will rest and recover on the yacht, before being dropped off at the same spot the next day.

Lecomte has been physically training for this journey for four years, and has spent even more time putting together the scientific and practical preparations.

Swimming aside, he also has to prepare himself psychologically.

"The mental part is much more important than the physical," he told AFP. "You have to make sure you always think about something positive."

From Chshi, he will swim north up the coast of Japan, helped by the Kuroshio current before he joins the North Pacific Current going east.

This isn't his first cross-ocean journey, though it's his most ambitious. In 1998, Lecomte was first person to swim across Atlantic Ocean (4,000 miles) without a kickboard.

"It didn't take that long for me to change my mind," he told NPR last week. "Three, four months afterwards I was already thinking about my next adventure and doing something kind of the same."

After having a shark follow him for five days during his Atlantic crossing, Lecomte is prepared this time, with a shark repellent bracelet.

People can follow Lecomte's progress and his location's weather conditions on a live tracker.

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