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Senegal is a relatively stable country where poverty nevertheless remains a problem for many. Children grow up in hazardous conditions, constantly at risk from child labour, trafficking and exploitation. In Dakar alone, it is estimated that over 7,000 children survive by begging on the street. SOS Children's Villages has been working to bring a better life to families in Senegal since 1977. … more about our charity work in Senegal

Could you swim across the Atlantic Ocean?

Ben Hooper will swim from Africa to Brazil to support SOS Children
Ben Hooper will swim from Africa to Brazil to support SOS Children

For most of us, it is a feat that is hard to imagine, let alone complete; swim 2000 miles from Senegal in West Africa to Brazil in South America. Yet this is what Ben Hooper will attempt next year - raising funds for SOS Children along the way. Ben is deep in training for his swim across the Atlantic Ocean, and is asking for your support.

The countdown has begun until Ben Hooper will 'Swim the Big Blue'. In November 2015, he will leave Dakar Harbour in Senegal by swimming into the Mid-South Atlantic Ocean. 90 days later he hopes to arrive in Natal, in Northern Brazil. He will complete the journey by freestyle swimming (front crawl) up to 12 hours a day. In between he will rest and receive food from a support boat, piloted by Atlantic rower and sailor Roy Finley. 

Through his extraordinary efforts, Ben hopes to raise £2 million for three charities, including SOS Children. The proceeds raised by the 'Swim the Big Blue' expedition will support vulnerable children in Senegal and Brazil - the countries he is departing from and arriving at.

Swim the big blue

Ben kicked off preparations for the expedition by inviting children from the SOS School in Dakar, Senegal, and Dunalley Primary School in the UK, to design an expedition logo. All the designs entered into the competition were colourful and imaginative, and three winners were chosen, with their ideas combined to produce the final logo. 

Sharks, jellyfish, and a harsh sun

Covering the vast ocean, Ben will pass through shark-inhabited areas, swim over 30-foot surges, and encounter jelly fish and flying fish. All the while, the equatorial sun will beat down on him; interrupted only by fierce storms.

When complete, Ben will be the first person in history to have swum the Atlantic ocean in full and to have closely documented the journey and exact number of miles covered.

To help him achieve this accolade, he has a host of special equipment to protect him. To mitigate jellyfish stings he will wear a jelly suit. To ward off sharks, Ben will wear at least one Shark Shield device, and the support boat will be equipped with counter-shark equipment.

Give Ben your support

Every day of the expedition, Ben will swim a maximum of two six-hour periods at two-miles per hour. Between these periods there will be two-hours of rest on the boat. During this rest period, and up to 10 hours overnight, Ben will attempt to restock on the 10-13,000 calories he will be expending each day. He will also eat and drink in the water every thirty minutes without touching the boat – the supplies will be passed to him by throw or pole. Apart from this, Ben will be on his own. 

To lend your support to Ben and cheer him on during his tough training, search “Ben Hooper Swim the Big Blue”.

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