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From the College of Natural Sciences
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Nutrition Science Students Advise Swimmer Planning to Cross the Pacific Ocean

Nutrition Science Students Advise Swimmer Planning to Cross the Pacific Ocean

​Long-distance swimmer Benoit Lecomte visited campus as the guest of two College of Natural Sciences departments working with him as he prepares to attempt to swim across the Pacific Ocean, a 5,500-mile voyage to raise awareness about climate change and ocean health.

Ben Lecomte, a Central Texas resident, is working with two departments in the College of Natural Sciences as he prepares to swim across the Pacific Ocean.

​Department of Nutritional Sciences at UT Austin chair, Molly Bray, and her students are providing Lecomte advice on what is best for him to eat throughout the journey, as he must consume 8,000 calories a day to maintain energy throughout the swim. The Nutritional Sciences Department also consulted Lecomte on his previous swim across the Atlantic Ocean in 1998, when he was the first person to traverse that ocean without a kick board. 

The University of Texas Marine Science Institute is also working with Lecomte on an "extreme citizen scientist" project, wherein Lecomte will collect algal mats . Mats appear to be an important source of nutrition for marine life in a nutrient-poor area of the Pacific Ocean, and marine science researchers will analyze how common these mats are and the healthy bacteria living on and inside of them. Mats are difficult to detect from a boat, and best seen either with very expensive remotely operated vehicle or by a person in the water, making Lecomte's role uniquely valuable. 

Lecomte plans to begin his swim, which will start in Tokyo and end in San Francisco, in December. 

In a piece that aired on The Texas Standard Lecomte discusses the logistics of swimming eight hours a day every day for approximately six months and his motivation for attempting to swim across the Pacific Ocean, while Bray discussed how she and her student research team will provide support for the effort.

Listen to the piece with Bray and Lecomte on The Texas Standard.

Audio: The Case of the Missing Folate


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Wednesday, 12 May 2021

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