Frenchman begins swim across Pacific to raise awareness about ocean’s health

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Long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte set off on a 5,500-mile journey across the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, swimming to raise awareness about the current state of the oceans and plastic pollution.

On his journey he will be crossing a patch of ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area three times the size of France where large amounts of garbage and plastic waste have collected.

The 50-year-old's plan is to swim for eight hours a day, as well as consume over 8,000 calories, as he undertakes an extraordinary journey that is part-adventure and part-scientific experiment.

"When you don't have anything to occupy your mind, it goes into kind of a spiral, and that's when trouble starts", he said.

He will be accompanied throughout by the 20-metre (67-foot) support boat Discoverer, where he will eat, rest and sleep before being dropped every morning where he stopped the previous evening. This is far from the first challenge Lecomte has taken up.

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"I am a little bit like a tiger in a cage, ready to go".

Scientific teams accompanying Lecomte, including NASA, will collect more than 1,000 water samples and study plastic pollution, mammal migration and the effect of extreme endurance events on the human body.

When Ben Lecomte stepped on to land for the first time after swimming across the Atlantic Ocean in 1998, he told himself "never again". "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".

Organizers say Lecomte completed a similar swim across the Atlantic in 1998.

He added: "I try to disassociate my mind from my body and everything that happens to my body - pain or cold, I try to put aside". "I try to get into as much detail as possible - to sense the wind or the scent of a person walking by".

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