As a child Ben Hooper nearly drowned in a swimming pool in Belgium. A traumatic experience like this might cause someone to fear the water, however Ben decided to embrace it instead, using his love of swimming to try and conquer an unimaginable challenge – swimming the Atlantic Ocean.
The father of one, from London will be setting off from Dakar, Senegal on 1 November 2015 and hopes to reach Natal, Brazil in time for St David’s day on 1 March 2016.
Ben, has always been a fighter, serving as part of the British military and having died in intensive care after a premature birth that left him with collapsed lungs.
He is aiming to complete 15 – 20 miles a day, swimming freestyle for up to 12 hours a day, before sleeping overnight on a boat. He is expected to burn off between 10,000 and 12,000 calories each day.
What lies in store for Ben
The distance between Dakar and Natal is 1,736 miles. The already daunting challenge is made even more intimidating when you realise that Ben will not only be competing with currents that can reach seven knots, but waves that can reach 20 feet high and marine life including sharks and jellyfish.
“I’m taking a shark safety team with me from Key West, Florida, who have worked to protect Diana Nyadd and Chloe McCardel on their swims. This includes shark defence, shark safe chemical repellents and shark shield devices, and a pointy pole from B&Q as back up”
If Ben is successful he will go down in history as the first person to swim across an ocean in “transparently”. This will mean that users online will be able to watch Ben’s progress online. The entire swim will be documented and verified by the Guinness Book of Records and independent organisations.
A research and exercise team will accommodate Ben on his journey. Medics will be doing tests, looking at the effects of the swim on human body endurance, as well as nutrition, hydration impact, and immune system response.
How you can master the open water
For those of you who don’t fancy swimming the Atlantic and would rather concentrate on the swim leg of your event, Ben shares his technique, which could help you to a new PB in the water.
“I’d recommend an extended reach before hand entry, good core work and lower your kick ratio to conserve for bike, increasing speed with longer reach and therefore greater pull. This will mean you’re faster with less energy expenditure.” Ben says from his training camp.
“Avoid the high elbow, hand entry by your head. Reach and stretch out, hold for one second longer and save energy. This works for me and I hope it works for you”