Swimmer crosses Pacific to fight pollution

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The team accompanying Lecomte will collect water samples each day along the way to determine the level of plastic and microplastic pollution.

Ben Lecomte's journey will take him across the northern part of the "plastic continent", an accumulation which, according to a recent study, stretches across a surface area three times the size of France.

The expedition's first mate, Tyral Dalitz, told ABC the team wanted to dispel a myth about the garbage patch.

Much of the research will focus on the build-up in the Pacific of "plastic smog", containing billions of pieces of microplastic.

In particular, they are anxious about microplastic particles, bits measuring no more than two-tenths of an inch (5 mm), which come from large plastic trash that has fragmented into smaller pieces or microbeads in products like facial soap, body wash and toothpaste.

After having a shark follow him for five days during his Atlantic crossing, Lecomte is prepared this time, with a shark repellant bracelet. His journey is expected to last at least six months.

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It was becoming a father that inspired the Frenchman to take up his cause.

Mr Lecomte, who plans to swim eight hours a day, will eat, rest and sleep on a boat which will accompany him before being dropped off every morning to where he stopped swimming the previous evening.

'When I was little and I was with my father walking on the beach, I didn't see any plastic, or hardly any. "To do that day in and day out, to push you and to push your limits, then the mind has to be super strong".

But Lecomte says that raising awareness about pollution is more important than setting records. "You have to make sure you always think about something positive or you always have something to think about", he said.

"The worst thing that can happen is not knowing what you are going to do with your mind and going to the wrong place", he said.

And he would know. In 1998, Lecomte was first person to swim across Atlantic Ocean (4,000 miles) without a kickboard. His words as he left the water?

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