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Storms force swimmer to suspend attempt to cross Pacific Ocean

  • SEEKER VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Ben Lecomte in the water off Japan today. The long-distance swimmer suspended his attempt to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean because of severe storms off Japan.

TOKYO >> Severe storms have forced a French-American long-distance swimmer to suspend his attempt to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean.

Ben Lecomte and the yacht accompanying him have returned to a port in Yokohama, Japan, to wait out the weather, his team said today in an email response to questions.

The 51-year-old swimmer has completed about 800 kilometers (500 miles) of the 8,000-kilometer (5,000-mile) journey to San Francisco since leaving Choshi, a city on the Japanese coast, nearly two months ago. The journey was expected to last six to eight months with Lecomte swimming about eight hours a day.

“The weather, there’s nothing I can change about it,” he was quoted as saying in an online post by Seeker, a San Francisco-based digital media outlet that is documenting the swim. “I’m not going to stress about it. I’m not going to put thought into it. It is what it is, and that’s all.”

The swim was suspended on Friday. When the weather calms, his team plans to return to where Lecomte left off so he can resume his swim.

The typhoon season is underway in the Pacific, and three major storms were converging on the 20-meter (67-foot) yacht. One of them, Tropical Storm Jongdari, struck Japan last weekend.

The port call in Yokohama will also allow the team to repair an electric motor on a dingy that escorts Lecomte as he swims.

Lecomte, who was born in France and lives in Austin, Texas, has been surprised by the volume of plastics and other trash that he has encountered, a news release from Seeker said. One goal of the swim is to raise environmental awareness about the oceans.

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