Comment Of The Day
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Thursday, October 1, 1998

Benoit Lecomte: Quite A Guy.

Benoit Lecomte is quite a guy and you probably have never even heard his name.

Trailed relentlessly by a 10-foot (man-eating) shark, this remarkable 31 year-old Frenchmansuccessfully swam across the Atlantic Ocean completing the crossing on September 25.

He is an American Airlines sales representative who now lives in Austin, Texas. Benoit Lecomte hoped to reach the shores of Brest, France, by mid-October, but finished well ahead of time (and he says the shark had nothing to do with it).

Strong winds and high waves limited Lecomte's swimming time to between six and eight hours per day, a devastating bout of seasickness did not deter him, ( not to mention the 10 foot-plus shark that followed him passing back-and-forth about 30 feet below him). Whatever it was that drove him, he became the first human to to swim across the wily, unpredictable and always dangerous Atlantic Ocean.

"I'm did not so much swim," he said, "but I fought my way across," in an interview afterwards. Tremendously rough seas did not stop him as he pushed on through 20 and 25 foot waves day after day.
His previously longest swim was a nonstop 23-hour stint in a Texas lake. His equipment included a shark-repellent device in addition to the fins, snorkel and a thin wet suit.

Between exhausting swims, Lecomte rested aboard a 40-foot sailboat, where a crew of two prepared up to six meals of 7,000 to 8,000 calories per day for him.

In all he swam 3736 miles, in 74 days, beginning in Hyannis, Massachusetts and emerging at Quiberon, France, many, many miles off the preplanned course.

Lecomte, born in the Paris suburb of Enghien-les-Bains, dedicated the swim to the memory of his father Pierre, who died of colon cancer seven years ago.

His swim raised more than $150,000 for cancer research, Turner said.

We just thought in a world of scandal and massacre, a world that sometimes seems to lack dignity and nobility, that you might enjoy seeing this awesome and majestic side of humanity, that shamefully sometimes goes by unnoticed.

It's clear that the pioneering, self-sacrificing, reaching- for-the-stars part of mankind's makeup is vastly more interesting, really, than the self-indulging, harrassing and hassling of those other, darker propensities of the human race that are always, always reaching for self-gratification, self-justification and unearned self-agrandizement. But maybe ... you can't have one without the other. Intellectually, that is an easy argument to dismiss, but from a practical point of view, while discouraging, there is plenty of evidence to support the dark sides claim to legitimacy. So, take a few moments to consider Benoit Lecomte's effort and amazing personality. Dwell on him for a moment or two. You'll be better off for it.

A post script for you: he is planning to compete in the "Swim Around The World," an event building now.

See you next time?

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