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Next stop San Francisco as 'longest swim' embarks from Tokyo

Next stop San Francisco as 'longest swim' embarks from Tokyo

Battling sharks and jellyfish, the passionate environmentalist hopes his epic mission from Tokyo to San Francisco will raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans - an obstacle that could prove to be his most unsafe foe.

Much of the research will focus on the build-up in the Pacific of "plastic smog", containing billions of pieces of microplastic.

Mr Lecomte, who plans to swim eight hours a day, will eat, rest and sleep on a boat which will accompany him before being dropped off every morning to where he stopped swimming the previous evening.

Lecomte, whose departure took place on World Environment Day, has said he is concerned about the effect of pervasive plastic pollution on marine ecosystems.

People can follow Lecomte's progress and his location's weather conditions on a live tracker.

In particular, they are anxious about microplastic particles, bits measuring no more than two-tenths of an inch (5 mm), which come from large plastic trash that has fragmented into smaller pieces or microbeads in products like facial soap, body wash and toothpaste.

"The mental part is much more important than the physical", he told AFP news agency.

"I remember my father and he was the one who taught me how to swim in the Atlantic". "Now, everywhere I go on the beach, I see plastic everywhere". "It's a problem we created and there is a very easy solution to start reversing it-single-use plastics for example, if we stop using them that will make a big change".

"It is mind over matter", said Lecomte, who is also an architectural consultant based in Austin, Texas when not in the water.

"The challenge is to keep doing the same thing for hour after hour and day after day", 50-year-old Mr Lecomte told The Telegraph before his departure from Choshi Beach, to the north-east of Tokyo.

"When you don't have anything to occupy your mind it goes into kind of a spiral, and that's when trouble starts", he says.

With his journey only just beginning, he knows the dangers he faces which include sharks, storms, swarms of jellyfish, and extremely low water temperatures.

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