British swimmer to brave sharks and heavy weather in Atlantic crossing

Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:49am EST
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By Emma Farge and Sophia Shadid

DAKAR (Reuters) - A 38-year-old British man set out on Sunday on a 2,000 mile (3,200 km) swim from Senegal to Brazil, seeking to become the first person to make it across the Atlantic Ocean.

Ben Hooper, a former military policeman who has been training for the challenge since 2013, expects to take between four and five months to swim to Natal in Brazil.

Wearing swimming shorts, he waved to well-wishers, saying "See you in Brazil" before wading into the water at Dakar's Monaco beach and starting a steady front crawl in the direction of Goree island.

A group of Senegalese onlookers said a prayer for him.

Hooper, who is 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, may have to swim through heavy seas, as well as shark breeding grounds close to Brazil.

"Together we're going to show that nothing is impossible," he told Reuters before his departure.

"I'm a little bit nervous, I'm a human being. I have a few fears hanging around, like I don't want to let my team down or my daughter, let alone my charities and my followers," he added.

Hooper has had a lifelong passion for swimming since nearly drowning at the age of five. He said he first conceived of the Atlantic challenge while battling depression in later life.   Continued...

Ben Hooper, 38, looks out to sea before starting a swim across the Atlantic from Dakar, Senegal, November 13, 2016. REUTERS/Emma Farge