In September 1998, the French swimmer Ben Lecomte became the first swimmer to cross the Atlantic Ocean unaided. The swimmer took 78 days to cross the Atlantic, swimming for 6 to 8 hours each day. Lecomte completed the swim using an ocean device consisting of a 25 ft electromagnetic field which protected him from sharks and was followed closely by a support boat. He stopped for one week part way through the swim to rest for a week at the Azores mid-Atlantic after suffering from exhaustion, but defenders say it would have been impossible for the human body to stay in the water for 78 days straight and claim his record breaking title was well deserved.
Swimming was part of the first modern Olympic games, hosted in Athens in 1896. Alfred Hajos from Hungry was the first man to win the 100m freestyle event, completing the swim in 1:20.20 32 seconds slower than the current British world record.
Eric the Eel
Unlike most famous swimmers, Eric Moussambani, nicknamed Eric the Eel by a journalist for The Times newspaper, won a place in the spotlight for being the slowest swimmer to enter the Olympics. Eric failed to meet the qualifying time for the Olympics in 2000 but he was allowed in after winning a place in a ‘wild card draw’ which aimed to enable developing countries to enter the competition that do not have the necessary training facilities. Eric started swimming only 8 months before the competition and practiced in a 20 m pool. Unsurprisingly his time was twice the time of his fastest competitors, finishing the 100m freestyle race in 1:52.72.
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