From Honolulu to San Francisco. In September 2019, long-distance swimmer and climate activist Ben Lecomte completed his Vortex Swim after three months. Swimming 555 kilometers across the infamous “Great Garbage Patch” — known as the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world — his team’s goal was to raise awareness and gather scientific data of plastic pollution.
In this Interview, Ben Lecomte shares insights from the project, what happened afterward, and a message for everyone seeking to make a change.
What is The Vortex Swim?
“The Vortex Swim is an expedition designed to bring attention to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and marine plastic pollution in general by swimming over 300 nautical miles through it and collecting scientific data.”
What is the Idea behind The Vortex Swim, and what do you hope to accomplish with this project?
“The purpose is to bring the general public as close as possible to the problem by sharing a compelling story and educate them about the effects of plastic and microfiber to marine life.”
What were your and your team’s most significant challenges?
“The main challenges are finding the right medium to convey the problem and engage the public.”
What went through your head when you were Swimming across the Great Garbage Patch?
“I was thinking about how could I share my experience so that people understand the importance of changing our habit on land and move to a more natural way of living.”
What difference do you want to make with this project?
“I want to inspire people to make changes in their life so that they also become agents of change.”
How has the project been received?
“I have been really pleased with the impact we had and the feedback we got from people making changes because of what we did.”
What is the aftermath of the project, and what are your next steps and goals?
“Since the end of the swim for the last two months, I have been traveling from coast to coast in the US, in Europe and Australia to share our story and talk about marine plastic pollution. This mission is never-ending.”
What are, from your point of view, the most critical problems the oceans are facing right now?
“The ocean is out of sight, and not enough people realize how critical to our life it is to have a healthy ocean. The ocean is facing so many problems; overfishing, acidification, plastic, and other pollution, that if people don’t feel connected to it, it is very difficult to protect it.”
Do you have some words for people out there that want to help to make a change?
“Anybody making a change in the right direction will inspire other people to do the same. We don’t have to be perfect at what we do, but we all have to do something.”
Read more about the Vortex Swim on Ben Lecomte’s website: https://benlecomte.com/