Professional distance swimmer Ben Lecomte has set off from Japan to San Francisco in an attempt to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean.
Lecomte left at 8am local time today from Choshi, which is north-east of Tokyo in neighbouring Chiba prefecture, spokesman Alexandre Borreil said.
He is expected to swim eight hours daily on a journey that could take six to eight months and will cover about 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles).
"For the moment we know he left and everything went well," Mr Borreil said.
Lecomte completed a similar swim across the Atlantic in 1998, organisers said.
After finishing swimming across the Atlantic Ocean in 1998 my first words were ‘never again’. But, it didn’t take long before my mind starting thinking to the next adventure and more than six years ago I starting planning my swim across the Pacific Ocean. Fast toward six years of hard work from countless helpers and I find myself taking the plunge and my first strokes from Japan, Choshi to America. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of volunteers, sponsors and partners over the years. It’s been a wirlwind of a ride and many ups and downs along the way. We’ve been pushed to our limits and in true swim style have been pushing our leaving date back as we get our boat in order for six to eight months at sea. We’ve been advised by our weather team of a storm forming off the coast of Japan with recommendations to postpone the departure. I was extremely eager to get going, and we left today as planned. However, if the storm progresses and we are put in any danger, me and the team will turn back and wait for the storm to pass. Lucky we have a GPS tracker so I can jump straight back in the same spot and continue swimming across the Pacific. We’ll keep you up to date with our journey. And don’t forget to watch the live stream of our departure on @seeker Discovery if you missed it
He is doing this swim to raise awareness about the health of the world's oceans and the threat of pollution.
Scientific teams accompanying Lecomte 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.
- Digital Desk and PA