French Swimmer Begins Attempt to Swim Across Pacific Ocean

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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.

"When I was little and I was with my father walking on the beach, I didn't see any plastic, or hardly any", Lecomte said in an interview with AFP. Ahead lie several months of unpredictable and at times turbulent weather, extremely cold water, not to mention the danger posed by sharks and jellyfish.

"The mental part is much more important than the physical". "You have to make sure you always think about something positive".

Battling sharks and jellyfish, the passionate environmentalist hopes his epic mission from Tokyo to San Francisco will raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans - an obstacle that could prove to be his most unsafe foe.

"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.

They will study plastic debris, the effect of extreme exercise on the heart and examine how the Fukushima nuclear disaster has affected the ocean. "Now, everywhere I go, on the beach, I see plastic everywhere", Lecomte said.

Lecomte's two children Max and Anna swam out with him for a few hundred metres before leaving him to continue the task of crossing the world's largest expanse of water. "Finally ready to start my swim across the Pacific Ocean", Lecomte, who became the first person to swim across the Atlantic in 1998 - in just 73 days - wrote on Twitter.

"It didn't take that long for me to change my mind", he told NPR last week.

His daily routine will remain virtually the same for the entire trip.

The rest of the time he will rest, sleep and eat on the 67-foot support boat Discoverer that will drop him back in the water at the same spot he exits every day.

"I have a strict no sugar diet".

He is expected to shed more than 8,000 calories a day.

Lecomte's progress can be followed through a live tracker on the Seeker.com website.

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