Choshi — Ben Lecomte dived into the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, kicking off an epic quest to swim 9,000km from Tokyo to San Francisco, through shark-infested waters choking with plastic waste. Under sunny skies, the Frenchman slipped into cool and placid waters shortly after midnight GMT, in warm and pleasant conditions with a slight breeze. He will face giant waves, sharks and jellyfish, and will also swim through part of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" in his attempt to be the first to accomplish the feat of swimming across the world’s biggest ocean. "I’m very anxious to start right now," said the swimmer as he prepared to take to the waves. His son and daughter swam with him for the first hundred metres or so, then rejoined a crowd of about 70 well-wishers, with family and friends hugging each other on the shore. "It’s very emotional for a lot of people here," said Lecomte.

Part adventurer, part environmentalist, Lecomte hopes to raise awareness of plastic contamination and...

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