(May 14, 2012) -- In mid-May, UTSA College of Business alumnus Ben Lecomte '95 will swim across the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for accomplishing the longest swim without a flotation device. Through the swim, Lecomte will raise awareness and money for cancer.
Lecomte is dedicating his efforts to his father, who died of cancer in 1991 at age 49. He credits his father for teaching him to swim as a young boy in France.
Embarking on an endurance challenge of this kind is not new to the Roadrunner. In September 1998, he completed a swim across the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Cod to the French shore of Quiberon. The journey spanned 3,700 miles, and when he completed it, was the first to accomplish such a feat without the aid of a flotation device or kickboard.
When asked about the relation between his battle in the ocean and those with cancer, Lecomte said, "My battle was very different from the one faced by cancer patients; it was my decision, and I could give up at any time. But, during my swim, I better understood their suffering and the feeling of not knowing the outcome."
Lecomte's Pacific swim will begin in Tokyo, Japan, and be completed in San Francisco, Calif. -- a 5,500-mile trek that should take five to six months depending on ocean conditions. His current training consists of swimming 3-5 hours per day, six days per week. During his Pacific swim, his body will require a consumption of 8,000 calories per day.
Lecomte earned a bachelor's degree in marketing from UTSA in 1995. Most recently, he earned a master's degree in architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington. Before that, he built day spas from the ground up, overseeing design, construction and building a customer base for the businesses.
Once Lecomte begins his swim, supporters can track his progress via his The Longest Swim website with the help of GPS tracking and live video cameras.
Q&A with UTSA alumnus Ben Lecomte
You’re a native of France. What brought you to UTSA?
My parents always exposed us to different cultures and taught us that it was important to follow our dreams. They were behind me when I decided to come to the states. I started out at San Antonio College and transferred over to UTSA graduating with a degree in business in 1995.
You recently visited the UTSA campus. Has it changed since your days here?
Absolutely. It has grown so much that I was lost on campus!
What were your favorite hangouts as a student here?
I did not have a lot of time while I was a student here. While I was not studying, I was swimming at the pool on campus. During school breaks, I traveled back to France to spend time with my family.
What do you remember about campus life while you were here?
Mainly living on campus. I think I lived in one of the first dorms on campus.
You have said that one of the main reasons you swim is to be a symbol of motivation for those who face struggles in their lives. Would you say this applies to college students?
Definitely. Life is a big adventure, and not only do I hope to be an inspiration for others, but I also draw inspiration by seeing the struggles others are able to overcome.
UTSA researchers are exploring matter at the atomic level with Helenita. It's one of the most powerful microscopes in the world, with the ability to operate near the theoretical limit of resolution. At 9 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing more than two tons, Helenita can dissect almost anything. With Helenita's resolution, researchers can study particles atom by atom to see how they behave.
That's critical in developing nanotechnology that will help diagnosis early-stage breast cancer or make helmets that are uber strong. Moreover, the detail that Helenita provides will allow nanotechnology researchers to create new therapies and treatments to fight a wide range of human diseases.
Did you know? Helenita can magnify a sample 20 million times its size, which would make a strand of human hair the size of San Antonio.
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