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Tuesday 14 August 2018

Storms force swimmer to suspend attempt to cross Pacific

Ben Lecomte has completed about 800 kilometres of the 8,000-kilometre journey to San Francisco since leaving Choshi in Japan nearly two months ago.

Ben Lecomte in the water off Japan (Seeker via AP)
Ben Lecomte in the water off Japan (Seeker via AP)

By Ken Moritsugu, Associated Press

Severe storms have forced a long-distance swimmer to suspend his attempt to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean.

Ben Lecomte and the yacht accompanying him have returned to a port in Yokohama, Japan, to wait out the weather, his team said.

The 51-year-old French-American swimmer has completed about 800 kilometres (500 miles) of the 8,000-kilometre (5,000-mile) journey to San Francisco since leaving Choshi, a city on the Japanese coast, nearly two months ago.

The journey was expected to last six to eight months, with Lecomte swimming about eight hours a day.

“The weather, there’s nothing I can change about it,” he was quoted as saying in an online post by Seeker, a San Francisco-based digital media outlet that is documenting the swim.

“I’m not going to stress about it. I’m not going to put thought into it. It is what it is, and that’s all.”

The swim was suspended on Friday.

When the weather calms, his team plans to return to where Lecomte left off so he can resume his swim.

The typhoon season is under way in the Pacific, and three major storms were converging on the 20-metre (67ft) yacht.

One of them, Tropical Storm Jongdari, struck Japan last weekend.

The port call in Yokohama will also allow the team to repair an electric motor on a dinghy that escorts Lecomte as he swims.

Lecomte, who was born in France and lives in Austin, Texas, has been surprised by the volume of plastics and other rubbish that he has encountered, Seeker said.

One goal of the swim is to raise environmental awareness about the oceans.

Press Association

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