After crossing the Atlantic in 1998, the French swimmer Benoit Lacomte has now embarked on a new challenge: swimming across the Pacific Ocean. If 20 years ago he set out on the endeavour to collect funds for cancer research (the illness from which his father had suffered 7 years earlier), this time the objective is to generate awareness about environmental issues.
Pollution due to plastic waste is in fact constantly increasing and – as it is becoming more and more known – most of it ends in our oceans. Benoit has therefore decided to swim across some of the most polluted waters on our planet and have this venture captured on video, so as to show people how dramatic the situation is.
His journey started on 5th June 2018 (aptly on World Environment Day). The crossing is supposed to last between six and eight months, at a pace of eight hours of swimming a day. The departure was from Chōshi, a Japanese town in the prefecture of Chiba, not far from the beaches of Fukushima (site of the 2011 nuclear explosion), and it should end in San Francisco, California, 8851 kilometres away.
The athlete is wearing a specifically designed wetsuit protecting him from the cold temperature of the ocean water, a bracelet radiating electromagnetic waves to keep away sharks and other dangerous creatures, and a device constantly monitoring and recording his heartbeat.
For his safety, a group of scientists is following him on a boat, where he can eat and rest when he needs to, in order to make sure he doesn’t run into any risk or suffer any physical or psychological damage. In the meantime, they can collect samples of water to determine the level of pollution.
The biggest challenge for the swimmer will be crossing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a 700.000 sq. km island of plastic waste between Hawaii and California. An actual dumping area progressively increasing in size. Mankind is responsible for this environmental chaos and has now the opportunity to remedy its actions: each of us can do our bit with the means and skills at our disposal. We therefore hope that more and more people decide to make changes to their lifestyles for the sake of the environment.