TOKYO: Powerful storms have forced a Frenchman attempting to become the first person to swim cross the Pacific Ocean to suspend his bid, nearly two months into the mammoth undertaking.
Ben Lecomte set off on June 5 from Choshi in Japan, planning to swim across the ocean in six to eight months.
But after nearly two months swimming eight hours a day, severe storms forced the 51-year-old to head back to port in Japan, Seeker, a media company tracking the swim, said Wednesday.
“Two typhoons, Jongdari and Wukong, have interrupted his momentum and forced the ship to head back to port in Japan -- a development that reflects the difficulty of the journey and the unpredictability of the ocean,” Seeker said in a post that Lecomte also tweeted on his account.
“Lecomte is as determined as ever to forge ahead with his historic trans-Pacific journey.”
Seeker did not say when the attempt might resume.
Lecomte was 800 kilometres (500 miles) into the 9,000-km swim when the weather forced the crew to turn back.
He consumed 8,000 calories a day to keep him going.
Part adventurer, part environmentalist, Lecomte organised the swim to raise awareness of plastic contamination and ocean pollution.
His support team conducted a raft of experiments on the trip, including collecting samples of plastic waste.
“The trash is way worse than we thought it would be,” Maria Amenabar, a research assistant with the crew, told Seeker.
Lecomte said the scale of the pollution made him all the more determined to continue the swim.
“It’s more important now than ever that we make it to the Great Garbage Patch,” he said, referring to a massive vortex of trash that floats between the US states of Hawaii and California.
“I want to show people why our oceans are so important.” -AFP