What to Know About Ben Lecomte, the Subject of 'The Swim' on Discovery+

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Apr. 22 2021, Published 4:37 p.m. ET

You've probably noticed the effects of climate change manifesting in more ways than one — weather patterns are becoming increasingly unpredictable, wildfires are ravaging forests worldwide, and air pollution is getting worse. But in a new Discovery+ documentary called The Swim, a brave adventurist named Ben Lecomte embarks on an unforgettable journey to swim across the Pacific Ocean, noting how global warming is constantly changing our oceans.

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“The ocean is in peril right now,” Lecomte said in a statement prior to his journey, according to NBC News back in 2018. “It has never been done, to collect data from one end of the ocean to the other... I have been dreaming, eating, sleeping that idea. Now it’s reality.”

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What is 'The Swim' about?

On April 15, Discovery+ debuted The Swim, which documented Lecomte's courageous attempt to swim 5,000 mile swim across the Pacific Ocean in 2018. The journey started Japan, and was set to finish in San Francisco, Calif., with a yacht trailing him the entire way for guaranteed safety. Along his long-distance journey, Lecomte experiences the first-hand effects of ocean pollution, noticing how both climate change and human activity affect the health of our natural waters in various ways.

"Lecomte’s route will take him through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: the giant floating mass of plastic rubbish where pollution concentrations have already been measured at over a million pieces of microplastic per square kilometre. Through samples collected by the crew, researchers will learn more about the ages of these particles and the chemical mechanisms behind their creation," reads a quote from a press release that went out prior to his expedition.

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“The mission of my historic swim is to bring to light the current state of our oceans,” said Lecomte in another press release prior to his journey. “The research we collect during The Swim will ultimately help us better protect our oceans and I’m excited to partner with Seeker and Discovery to bring this expedition and our findings to the world.”

Watch a preview for the documentary, below, to get a better idea of what you'll be witnessing in the full film.

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Who is Ben Lecomte?

Lecomte is a 53-year-old long-distance swimmer from France. In 1998, he became the first human being to swim across the Atlantic Ocean, from Cape Cod, Mass., to Quiberon, France, to raise money for cancer research. In 2018, he made his documented attempt to swim across the Pacific Ocean, to raise awareness about global warming and the deteriorating state of the planet.

"I’m not an olympic swimmer, I’m an adventurer who likes to swim," he writes on his personal website

Lecomte has also delved deep into the world of science — since his 2018 cross-Pacific journey, he participated in a UT Southwestern study that looked how being in outer space affects astronauts' hearts, compared to the heart of a long-distance swimmer. It was discovered that astronaut Scott Kelly's heart shrank a similar amount compared to Lecomte's, which lost quite a bit of mass from his journey.

Lecomte's journey was an impressive one with a crucial message — stream it via Discovery+ now.

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