Swimmer sets off in attempt to be first to cross Pacific

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Ben Lecomte, a French long-distance swimmer, dropped into the water Tuesday at Choshi, Japan, and embarked on his attempt to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean, BBC News reports.

Six years in the planning, the 5,500-mile effort is expected to take five to six months, with Lecomte swimming eight hours a day and covering an average of 30 miles daily, according to his website.

In 1998, Lecomte swam across the Atlantic Ocean, starting in MA and finishing in France, the BBC reported.

Ben Lecomte dived into the Pacific Ocean Tuesday, kicking off an epic quest to swim 9,000 kilometres from Tokyo to San Francisco, through shark-infested waters choking with plastic waste.

His son and daughter joined him for the first 100 metres before rejoining well-wishers and family on the shore.

Out at sea were the 20-metre yacht and inflatable boat, which will accompany him across the ocean.

He told Reuters last week that his plan was to swim for eight hours daily, and consume more than 8,000 calories each day.

The French architect, who has lived in the United States for over 25 years says, has prepared mentally and physically for the trip for seven years.

Lecomte is no stranger to feats of long-distance open-water swimming.

"To do the physical aspect of it, sure it is hard and all that but what is much more hard is to be in that very hostile environment, to do that days in and days out, to push you and to push your limits, then the mind has to be super strong".

Much of the research will focus on plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean, specifically the build-up of "plastic smog" containing billions of pieces of microplastic. Scientists are increasingly concerned about its effect on marine ecosystems and entry into the food chain.

In particular, they are anxious about microplastic particles, bits measuring no more than two-tenths of an inch (5 mm), which come from large plastic trash that has fragmented into smaller pieces or microbeads in products like facial soap, body wash and toothpaste.

"When I was little and I was with my father walking on the beach, I didn't see any plastic, or hardly any".

"The mental part is much more important than the physical. It's a problem we created and there is a very easy solution to start reversing it-single-use plastics for example, if we stop using them that will make a big change". "We know what we have to do".

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