Ex-policeman hopes to be the first to swim across the Atlantic Ocean

In December, a former English policeman will try to go where no man – or woman – has ever gone before by swimming the Atlantic Ocean. All 1,763 miles of it.

A former policeman hopes to become the first person to successfully swim the Atlantic Ocean

A former policeman hopes to become the first person to successfully swim the 1,763 miles across the Atlantic Ocean - a journey he hopes will be completed in 120 days. Image by dcwriterdawn / CC BY 2.0

Ben Hooper from Cheltenham knows that when he dives into the warm waters off Africa to begin his swim to South America, he will be attempting one of the world’s last great measurements of human endurance and endeavour.

Whitetip sharks will be the swimmer's biggest obstacle during his time in the Atlantic Ocean

Whitetip sharks will be the swimmer's biggest obstacle during his time in the Atlantic Ocean. Image by Alan Lee / CC BY 2.0

An evaluation of the challenge can be gleaned from the fact that over 4,000 have scaled Mount Everest, more than 1,300 have swum the Channel and even 12 men have managed to walk on the moon.

Get directions to outer space. Image by Harry Thomas Photography / CC BY 2.0

Twelve men have walked on the moon but none have managed to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Image by Harry Thomas Photography / CC BY 2.0

All the while, no one has swum the Atlantic - although two people who made claims of doing so, could not have their record substantiated by the Guinness Book of Records due to lack of evidence.

The Daily Telegraph reports that because of the vagaries of the Atlantic current, swimming in a straight line across the swell is not recommended so the 35-year-old Englishman will swim in an L-route to avoid the strong waves in the middle of the ocean. The extra distance will mean that all going well, his trip will take 120 days to complete.

Hooper has taken on the adventure to show his daughter that nothing is impossible and also because it is, as he says, “the last great challenge”. His biggest obstacle while swimming will be whitetip sharks which come up from the water vertically when attacking. To combat that, he will wear a camouflage wetsuit while releasing an experimental gas into the water - it smells like rotting shark cartilage which they shy away from.

Ben will be starting from Dakar in Senegal to Natal in Brazil. His attempt is called assisted staged swims, which means that after long stretches of swimming, he will have breaks on the support boat during the night and at times during the day. But he insists that every mile he swims will be logged with a GPS gizmo attached to his wetsuit so that anyone who wants to, can track him on their phones. He also plans to have a videographer filming every stroke he takes.

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