Man Overboard

Ben Lecomte will attempt to set the long distance swimming world record by swimming across the Pacific.

Ben Lecomte     Photo: Bongani Mlambo / Bongaj

In April, long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte pushes off for a 5,500-mile swim from Tokyo to San Francisco. His goal: to become the first person recognized by Guinness World Records to swim across an ocean. Lecomte will undertake the journey as a staged swim, meaning he’ll use a GPS device to pinpoint his location whenever he gets out of the water to rest, then sail back to that spot and continue his trek. (During a 1998 swim from Massachusetts to France, he ignored Guinness’s guidelines by resting aboard a drifting boat at night.) Lecomte will be in the water at least eight hours a day, averaging about 40 miles, for five months. He’ll wear a microchip strapped to his chest to track his location and vital signs, an underwater radio to communicate with his support crew, and a sonar device to ward off sharks. One of his biggest concerns, however, is simply eating enough to replace the estimated 8,000 calories he’ll burn each day. “The idea is to eat as much as possible and whatever my body is craving,” Lecomte says, “which sounds easy, but that’s a lot of food.”

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