The Longest Swim: Ben Lecomte alters diet to combat seasickness

longest swim ben lecomte

Open water swimmer Ben Lecomte has made some adjustments to his nutrition plan in a bid to get his 5,500-mile Pacific Ocean swim challenge moving.

After issues with nausea and seasickness last week kept him out of the water for a couple of days last week, Lecomte has altered his strategy and has noticed an immediate improvement.

The 51-year-old has been swimming for almost three weeks since setting off from the coast of Japan. He's covered around 130 nautical miles and has so far clocked up around 60 hours in the water.

But while his change in diet has seen him get more time in the water, weather conditions have continued to make the going tough.

Although Lecomte and his crew haven't seen the type of tropical storm that halted the challenge for three days during week one, some strong northeasterly winds and large waves have posed their own problems.

"I decided to eat only soup and bread. Fortunately for us, Yoav is a great bread maker. So I had some warm soup and few slices of bread on the RHIB," Lecomte wrote of his diet on his blog.

"I took breaks every hour instead of my regular nutrition break every 30 minutes. This new combination of food and timing worked great. I didn’t have any nausea, problem digesting and wasn't hungry."

More disheartening for the Frenchman was the weather - swimming into a strong northeasterly wind made conditions extremely tough and, after eight hours in the water, he'd only covered five miles.

benoit lecomte longest swim

Day 15 brought similar problems, and Lecomte wrote: "The wind was still blowing strong, accompanied by strong waves coming from the same direction but also swells from the south. This was an odd combination, none of which worked in my favour.

"I had put an extra layer of wetsuit and felt constricted. I had to work much harder to rotate my arms and stretch them in front of me. I was warm, though, but maybe I overdid it.

"I took my first nutrition break after swimming for one hour. I only had water to stay cool. I was battling those waves gorged with plankton and every so often one was breaking over me and my whole body was under water.

"My snorkel was also under water for few seconds and filled with water each time. Fortunately, it has a purge at the bottom and the water drained by itself, I just had to blew to clear the mouthpiece.

"After the second hour, I wondered what my speed was. I was only doing a little over one knot. That was very disappointing and did not make any sense to swim a full day of eight hours to only progress few miles like I did yesterday."

A frustrated Lecomte called it a day, and faced further delays over the next 48 hours as a storm rolled in over their location.

Lecomte had confidence in his TYR wetsuit to be able to swim in the waves, but unfortunately his support crew weren't so able.

"In those type of conditions I could swim, I am like a cork in the water," he said. "My wetsuit keeps me buoyant, I go up and down in the waves and don’t have to worry about capsizing.

"This is not the same for the kayak or the RHIB and it is a risk especially when the waves start to crest."

As the storm cleared and conditions improved, Lecomte was able to make better progress. A swollen lip, caused by his hoodie pressing up against his snorkel mouthpiece, gave him some discomfort, but the pain eased in the evening.

Lecomte is expecting the challenge to take six months. He is swimming towards San Francisco, and is doubling up The Longest Swim as a scientific study into pollution and oceanic research, as well as medical research into the effect of extreme exercise on the body.