Swimmer Ben Lecomte begins record Pacific crossing attempt

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On his way from eastern Japan to San Francisco - a distance of 5,600 miles - the 51-year-old swimmer will encounter a lot of those microplastic particles, most of which have broken down from larger plastic items.

He will also wear a device to test levels of radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was hit by a tsunami in 2011. He could face sharks, cold temperatures and storms during the swim, CBS reported.

"When I was little and I was with my father walking on the beach, I didn't see any plastic, or hardly any".

The rest of the time he will rest, sleep and eat on the 20-metre (67-ft) support boat Discoverer that will drop him back in the water at the same spot he exits every day.

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"To do the physical aspect of it, yea, it is hard, but what is much more hard is to be in that very hostile environment, and the mind has to be super strong", he said. "You have to make sure you always think about something positive or you always have something to think about", he said, reflecting on the task ahead.

Lecomte, who is no stranger to mammoth swims, having completed the 4,000 miles Atlantic crossing in 1998, will battle sharks and rough seas as he attempts to complete the gargantuan feat.

"If we are all aware of it then after it is much easier to take action and to change our behaviour because the solution is in our hands".

"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.

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The athlete is going to swim eight hours a day and spend the night on Board.

Scientific teams accompanying Lecomte, including NASA, will collect more than 1,000 water samples and study plastic pollution, mammal migration and the effect of extreme endurance events on the human body.

But Lecomte knows the application of science-and a boat stocked with 2.8 tonnes of food-will only get him so far.

The 51-year-old, who lives in the USA, has been preparing for more than six years for the swim, with his daily routine including hours of open water swimming.

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