Swimmer who conquered Atlantic now plans to cross Pacific — and AltaSea will help

Swimmer who conquered Atlantic now plans to cross Pacific — and AltaSea will help

Swimmer who conquered Atlantic now plans to cross Pacific — and AltaSea will helpSwimmer who conquered Atlantic now plans to cross Pacific — and AltaSea will help

Some are in awe at such a daring plan.

Others? Well, they just think he’s crazy.

But long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte, 50, won’t be deterred in the dream that he’s dubbed “The Longest Swim.”

“That’s fine,” he said of those who question his sanity.

After all, he swam across the Atlantic Ocean in 1998, becoming the first — and so far only — person to have done so.

The Paris-born adventurer’s upcoming voyage — swimming 5,500 miles from Tokyo to San Francisco set to launch in early spring 2018 — is part of a unique partnership with San Pedro’s AltaSea marine research center.

It’s a perfect fit for the evolving campus, said AltaSea Executive Director Jenny Krusoe, who describes the burgeoning green tech and sustainability movement as one led by “pioneers, they’re like the cowboys of the 21st century.”

SWIMMER TO BE LOCAL GUEST

Kicking off the endeavor, AltaSea will feature Lecomte as its special guest at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, during AltaSea’s quarterly open house at Berth 58 in the Port of Los Angeles, 2456 S. Signal St., San Pedro.

It is open to the public and no one will be turned away, but reservations are recommended by emailing RSVP@altasea.org by the end of the day Monday.

“I met him when we were both speaking at XPRISE (at a conference)” about six months ago, Krusoe said. “We both had the opportunity to listen to each other’s presentations and exchanged cards and, within a couple of days, we talked on the phone. … I thought there were so many connections so we brought him up to meet Bob Ballard (of the Nautilus and now a partner with AltaSea).”

Lecomte’s grueling ocean trek will take five to six months, the swimmer said, and will provide data for ongoing research into several issues, including pollution from plastics.

He’ll be swimming through what’s known as the Great Pacific garbage patch — a vortex where high concentrations of plastics, chemical sludge and other debris have been trapped — and collecting samples for research as he goes.

“What Ben is doing is drawing attention to plastics in the water and what they’re doing to the ocean,” Krusoe said.

While the history-making swim across the Atlantic was done to draw attention to cancer research — his father died from cancer at a young age — this one will be devoted to raising awareness about ocean pollution.

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