Long Distance Swimmer Passes 200 Nautical Miles After 40 Days at Sea

July 30, 2019

Long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte is experiencing the beauty of the natural world and the true cost of plastic pollution in our oceans. After 40 days of swimming up to 8 hours per day, and pushing himself through his physical limits, Ben has finally clipped 200 nautical miles since commencing his triumphant journey on the 17th of June.

Since the swim kicked off, Lecomte has experienced first-hand the impact of plastic waste in one of the most remote places on the planet. In partnership with New Zealand clothing brand icebreaker, Ben Lecomte is on a mission to explore the most polluted area of the ocean and raise awareness around ocean plastic pollution and the impact of synthetic fibres on our environment.

After launching from Hawaii, the team are now in the heart of what is commonly called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The crew have found a smog of microplastic pollution, with an increase of near 1,000% compared to previous samples. This data will be shared with scientists around the world to help educate and inform future research.

In the 40 days at sea, Ben has seen the effect plastic is having on the ecosystem living in one of the most remote places on earth. So far, Ben has encountered the following:

  • A frog fish stuck inside a plastic bottle
  • Plastic fragment measuring 0.5in x 2in in the stomach of a mahi-mahi fish
  • Albatross trying to eat colourful floating plastic debris
  • Collection of 1 plastic particle every other second, an increase of 1,000%
  • Toothbrushes, plastic bottles, bags and toys which are becoming artificial reefs for marine life

“On one of my favourite days, I was swimming with a pod of whales while in the centre of the garbage patch – sadly, we also had our largest collection of microplastics up to this point on that day. It’s sad to see these creatures swimming through an area of such high concentrations of plastic. The effects are unknown but our contribution to research will hopefully help to understand the current situation.” – Ben Lecomte

Ben and his crew aim to arrive in San Francisco on August 31st, having completed the 300 nautical mile swim, and the first unified transpacific survey of plastic pollution. icebreaker believes that as humans we are all drivers of change, and with more information and research, we have the chance to reduce further plastic pollution to the planet. icebreaker is helping reduce plastic by using natural fibres instead of synthetics, 0% acrylic by 2020 and using plastic-alternative packaging.

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Founded by Jeremy Moon in 1995 in New Zealand, icebreaker pioneered the ethical and sustainable production of natural performance apparel. Now a part of the VF Corporation, icebreaker continues to challenge the status quo while championing natural, transparent and responsible ways to do business.

Following the publication of its Transparency Report in 2018 and 2019, icebreaker was one of only a handful of brands to be awarded an A+ rating in the Tearfund Ethical Fashion report, two years in a row. The report found icebreaker to be excellent in every area, including scrutiny of policy, traceability, transparency, supplier relationships and worker rights at every stage of the production process.

Progressive by nature, icebreaker is committed to continuing its focus on natural innovation and finding new natural alternatives. One of its sustainability goals is to replace or reconstitute all remaining synthetic content in its product collection by 2023.

icebreaker looks to nature for the answers and for innovative ways to do more with less. Working with what nature provides and adapting as nature does, icebreaker enables consumers to join a movement towards choosing natural and preserving our planet for generations to come.

icebreaker is sold in more than 5,000 stores in 50 countries through wholesale, icebreaker retail stores and e-commerce platforms. To discover more, visit icebreaker.com


For brand and media enquiries contact Chief Brand & Product Officer Carla Murphy (carla_murphy@vfc.com), for product collections and brand partnerships contact Global Brand Manager Kristin Borley (kristin_borley@vfc.com) and for campaigns and assets contact Global Head of Campaigns, Trudie Abel (trudie_abel@vfc.com)


@icebreakernz @thevortexswim
#movetonatural #thevortexswim

icebreaker Limited
Level 2, Lot 3, 130 Ponsonby Road
Auckland 1011
PO Box 68907, Newton
Auckland 1145
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