Benoit Lecomte: A Swim to Save our Seas
Cruz Hemp has decided to create a series of posts to honor individuals that epitomize the notion of Living Your Best Life. These people have no affiliation with Cruz Hemp, do not endorse Cruz Hemp products, and may not have even heard of Cruz Hemp. We simply want to recognize those unique accomplishments that inspire us.
The open water swimming enthusiast Benoit Lecomte was the first man to swim across the Atlantic ocean in 1998. He spent eight or more hours a day swimming, enduring storms, jellyfish, ice-cold temperatures, twenty-foot waves, and was even followed for five days by a shark. He would drift and sleep on the boat accompanying him throughout his journey. The continuous stage swim lasted for 73 days. He departed from Massachusetts, and 3,716 miles later landed on the French shores of Quiberon. He dedicated his swim as a tribute to his father, who died from cancer. His swim raised money for the Association for International Cancer Research, now known as the World Cancer Research Fund International.
In 2012 Benoit announced he would attempt to swim from Japan to San Francisco in 2018. This time he dedicated his swim to bring awareness to the great pacific garbage patch. A swirling mass of trash floating around in the pacific ocean between California and Hawaii, twice the size of Texas and estimated to be made up of 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. Sea Life in this region of the ocean is not the only life devastated by the presence of garbage. The problem has caused every bird on the island of Midway to die from a stomach full of plastic. He wants to draw attention to the polluted vortex of sludgy water with the hope of inspiring people to stop using one-time plastics and change behaviors that are detrimental to sustaining any future.
Benoit partnered with 27 organizations during his journey to collect water samples and data about plankton, sealife, plastic, pollution, and more. He also had teams of doctors and scientists collecting data on his health throughout the journey through microchip implants. The devices would measure his microbiome, heart, and mental health. The research and samples taken from the sea have been used by organizations like NASA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
With six years of preparation, the fifty-one-year-old, Benoit dove into the pacific ocean off the coast of Japan on June 5, 2018. His goal was to swim the distance of 5,600 miles from Japan to the shores of California. Benoit and his crew took off with an electromagnetic wave broadcasting around him into the water to protect him from the shark-infested waters.
He calculated the journey would take about six to eight months. He would swim eight hours a day and consume 8,000 calories a day to keep a healthy weight and maintain his pace.
Each day began with a bowl of oatmeal loaded with dried fruits to keep him full throughout the day. Before diving in the water, he would respond to a few emails and slather vaseline over his skin to protect his skin from chafing against the wetsuit. He would take a quick snack break for water and sometimes a protein shake to keep himself going. After swimming eight or more hours a day, his first priority was a hot shower. He would eat hot soups, bread, fruits, and protein drinks to get in his 8,000 calories. The long strenuous days made him so hungry he would often wake up in the night to snack.
Six months into the journey, his team was forced inland due to bad weather and boat damage. Benoit landed on the shores of Oahu, Hawaii. He came back to land without feeling defeated. Benoit talked about how he wanted to continue his journey when the weather allowed him to do so safely. The disappointment wasn’t about not meeting his goal to make it to San Francisco. Instead, he came back with worries far greater. He brought back a powerful message for all to hear. If we do not address climate change and our plastic waste piling up in the sea, it will be too late.
His crew collected plastic along the entire journey with special nets that pulled micro plastic off the surface. Those bits are just a drop in the ocean compared to the massive pacific garbage patch floating between California and Hawaii. Benoit did make an impact and brought more awareness to the problem. He hoped his message would inspire people to stop using one-time plastic.
Although obstacles got in the way of his end goal, he came back with a message for everyone to open their eyes to climate change and start being proactive. The damage done to our seas is beyond repair, but it can be improved. At fifty-one years old, he goes the distance for the future of our planet and to raise awareness about climate change. Today Benoit continues to swim for causes that can benefit the world and raise money for research. Read more about Benoit’s ocean swim here.