Reading Practice 6: Swimming Across the Pacific Ocean
Time yourself for one minute while you read this article. You can select multiple levels.
A French swimmer will try to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean. Ben Lecomte, 51, set off from Japan on Tuesday on his superhuman task of crossing the ocean. It will take him more than six months to complete the 9,000-km swim. He will have to swim for eight hours a day to reach his target on the west coast of the USA. He will also have to face many dangers. There will be sharks, jellyfish, storms, rough seas, and very low water temperatures. He will also have to fight exhaustion and any injuries he picks up along the way. However, Mr Lecomte said: “The mental part is much more important than the physical. You have to make sure you always think about something positive.”
Lecomte has been training for six years to take up this challenge. He has practised every day during that time by swimming in the sea. This is to make sure he is in top physical condition. He has also been training his mind. It will be a very lonely swim and he needs to be mentally tough. Lecomte said he is doing the swim to raise awareness of climate change, the effects of plastic rubbish in the ocean, and the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the ocean. Scientists will also study his body to monitor how extreme exercise affects the heart. In 1998, Lecomte made the first solo trans-Atlantic swim. It took him 73 days to cover the 6,400km. When he reached dry land, his first words were, “never again”.
- trans: across
- trans-Siberian Railroad
- superhuman: a very powerful, special person (like a superhero)
- lonely: alone, only one person
- mentally tough: very hard on the brain and feelings, not the physical part of the body
Next, give yourself one minute to find the answers to these questions if you don’t already know.
- How long does he think it will take to swim across the Pacific Ocean? (more than six months)
- What does he say will be the hardest part about the swim? (the mental part)
- How long has he been practicing for the swim? (six years)
- Why does he say he is doing the swim?
- “Lecomte said he is doing the swim to raise awareness of climate change, the effects of plastic rubbish in the ocean, and the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the ocean. Scientists will also study his body to monitor how extreme exercise affects the heart.”
Next, discuss the article to practice your English production.
- What do you think he means that “the mental part is much more important than the physical?”
- How do you think he will do this swim?
- He swims with a boat nearby where he can rest, eat, etc.
- People are with him doing research.
- Had you ever heard about him before?
Atlantic Ocean swim (from Wikipedia)
Lecomte has made the claim he was the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean, but he is not in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is hard to define what it takes to be able to say someone “swam across the Atlantic Ocean.”
“According to the Rocky Mountain News, Lecomte would have had to average 8 mph (13 km/h; 3.6 m/s) to have swum the entire distance, 3 to 4 times as fast as other long-distance swimmers.”
What are some problems with defining whether or not he swam across the Atlantic Ocean?
What can his team do to make sure his Pacific swim will count?
“From 16 July to 25 September 1998, Lecomte undertook a swim in stages from Hyannis, Massachusetts to Quiberon, Brittany, France, including a one-week stop in the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago.”
A sailboat followed him for the whole 73-day, 3716-mile swim where he slept and ate. The boat was manned by a three people and even had an 7.6 meter electromagnetic field. He usually swam for a total of eight hours every day in two to four hour segments. He was swimming to bring awareness and raise money for cancer research as a tribute to his father.
The stated purpose of the swim was to raise money for cancer research as a tribute to his father.
Finally, take note of any new vocabulary. Look up the new words. Writing sentences using the new words can help you learn how they are used and help you remember them.