Friday, September 15, 2017

Cross-Pacific Swim

By Karen Robes Meeks

Ben Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean, will kick off a six-month attempt to traverse the Pacific Ocean on Sept. 16, at an open house at AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles.

Lecomte, who is doing the swim to bring the growing issues of plastic pollution into the spotlight, will be accompanied by a support team that will also collect data on the ocean’s condition and its effect on human and sea life for various research projects and major scientific organizations, including NASA.

One of the studies will track Lecomte’s swim as he follows the currents that have carried radioactive pollution from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant accident. He will wear a “RadBand” sampling device to measure its spread. Lecomte’s body will also be tested during the six-month swim to study the impacts of extreme exercise on his biome.

“We’re proud to support The Longest Swim, providing facilities and other resources for Ben’s team and ship as he prepares to bring worldwide attention to the plastics and other contaminants polluting our oceans,” said AltaSea Executive Director Jenny Krusoe. “His project is an example of what we’re building here, bringing together ocean-focused science, education and sustainable business incubation. We’re convening passionate, smart people and organizations dedicated to making our planet better. Ben’s project is a natural fit.”

After staying at AltaSea, Lecomte’s 67-foot support ship Discoverer and crew will begin its five-week journey to Tokyo, where Lecomte will launch into his spring swim to San Francisco.v “Now that I have children, it’s where my motivation is,” Lecomte said. “I’m using what I like to do and creating a platform that maybe can make a little difference. I’m swimming across the ocean to give attention to the problems facing our oceans, so that our kids can maybe have a better future.”

Lecomte will be at AltaSea’s quarterly open house, which starts at 10 a.m. Sept. 16 at AltaSea in Berth 58, 2456 S. Signal St. in San Pedro. The event is open to the public, but reservations are required. Email for more details.