Ben Lecomte is in the final stages of preparing for an amazing feat of endurance and mental strength as he gets ready to swim 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean from Tokyo to the shore of the American West Coast.
Originally from France, Ben know calls Texas home and is a typical guy next door with a wife and two young children. However, it is his dedication to helping Cancer patients that sets him apart. Having lost his father in 1991 to an 18 month battle, Ben decided he wanted to raise funds and awareness for cancer patients by being the first person to swim across the Atlantic. He completed the journey in 1998 after 73 gruelling days at sea;
“My battle was very different from the one faced by cancer patients, as it was my decision and I could give up at any time. But during my swim I better understood their suffering and the feeling of not knowing the outcome.”
Hi Ben, Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. For our readers, what are the reasons for doing both the world record breaking swim in 1998 and this next colossal undertaking? Has it always been your goal to swim the Pacific too?
Being an adventurer, you never stop thinking about the next adventure… and swimming and the oceans are what attracts me; this is my passion. I like to push my limit and challenge myself in that way…so after the Atlantic, the next logical step is to go for the Pacific.
How did it feel to be the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean?
It did not change anything really, I did not change, it was just very fulfilling at the personal level. It was about reaching a personal goal and realising a dream more than anything.
Did you face any major problems on the journey across the Atlantic?
Not one major problem, just the accumulation of challenges made it very difficult: routine, hostile environment, lack of sleep, physical and emotional pains.
What is your training regime like? How does it affect your everyday life?
I cross train: swim, bike and run for 4 to 6 hours per day. It is very challenging to find the time to do it in between everything else, but I love it so I make the time for it.
How long will the swim take? How far are you looking to cover each day?
I expect it to take about 5 months covering about 40 miles per day with the currents behind me, helping me ever so slightly. This means swimming for 8 hours every day – for about 150 days straight!
What are the living conditions like on the trip?
Swimming, swimming, and more swimming followed by eating, sleeping, eating, sleeping. It’s just a challenging routine as you try to cover as much distance as possible while trying to put as much food as possible in my body, as I will need 8000 calories a day. I will also need to fit in plenty of sleep and rest when not swimming.
What are the major difficulties you will face during the swim? Is there anything different this time from the Atlantic?
The conditions are about the same in terms of weather, current and temperature, but it is going to be much longer journey. The need to keep on doing the same thing over and over, day in day out, in a hostile environment with limited comfort is the challenge.
What equipment will you be using? Anything specialist to help make the journey safer or easier?
I will be using communication devices that would allow me to watch a video and have phone conversation with people on the boat and on land all while swimming…this will make a big difference!
How does the human body cope with being in water for so long?
I am wearing a wetsuit so my skin is somewhat protected from the Ocean, but I have a couple of doctors who are going to remotely monitor some of my body’s vital statistics and signs in order to evaluate how my body will react and change over the swim.
What kind of support will you have on the journey?
There will be 5 crew members on the boat with me at all times and a crew of experts on land, including doctors and sport nutritionist to keep me fit and healthy – and an oceanographer and meteorologist to help us with the great conditions.
Which part of the swim are you most looking forward to or dreading the most?
Can’t wait to start and get into the routine, but then I dread the routine while on board…
Have you heard from people whose lives you have impacted upon through these huge achievements?
During my Atlantic swim I communicated through emails with cancer patients and survivors. It was a huge source of motivation for me to know that I was inspiring others, which in turn inspired me to keep on going, even at the hardest of times.
Fantastic Ben, thanks a lot for taking the time to chat with us and share your truly inspirational story. We all wish you the very best of luck and will definitely be keeping an eye on your progress.
If you would like to keep up to date with Ben’s progress, or make a donation to the Longest Swim Charity – you can find all the information on Ben’s website.