‘The ocean is in peril’: Athlete attempts trans-Pacific swim to bring attention to plastics pollution

Swimmer makes unplanned stop in Hawaii after bad weather cancels transpacific expedition

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A French-American swimmer, hoping to be the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean, arrived in Honolulu on Monday after bad weather forced his team to call off the attempt.

Ben Lecomte was greeted with cheers, hugs, and lei as he swam into Queen's Beach in Waikiki.

The 51-year-old athlete says he swam about 1,700 miles and has been at sea for almost four months straight.

"Right now my legs are a little shaky. I'm not used to having something very stable under my feet, but it feels good. The first thing I did was grab some sand with my hands to feel sand, to feel earth," said Lecomte.

Jane Burton, who has been following Lecomte's journey, flew in from Kona to congratulate him in person.

"It was incredible. I'm still shaking. A lot of us were crying with joy and just gratitude on many levels," Burton said.

Lecomte and his nine-member team started the journey in Tokyo, Japan back in June.

The goal was to swim 5,000 miles across the Pacific to San Francisco to raise awareness about plastics polluting the ocean and collect samples along the way.

"We saw one piece of plastic every three minutes, and we collected three pieces of micro plastic every minute. To see that with sea life was very disturbing. The ocean is in peril," Lecomte said.

But the swim was called off after powerful winds ripped the escort yacht's main sail, leaving the crew with a limited supply of fuel.

That's when the decision was made to head to Honolulu instead.

"Personally, I was ready to push it to the limit and to go much further, but I knew I wasn't going to put (the crew) in danger," said Lecomte.

Lecomte says he plans to swim the Hawaii to California leg sometime in the Spring with a stop at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

This isn't the first time Lecomte has attempted to cross oceans.

In 1998, he swam across the Atlantic Ocean in 73 days in support of cancer research as a tribute to his father.

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