Ex-serviceman prepares to take on world-first swim across the Atlantic

Ben Hooper plans to swim 2,000 miles - facing sharks, waves and storms. Credit: Ben Hooper

A British father is about to attempt the first ever swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

Ben Hooper - a former serviceman from Cheltenham - wants to raise £1 million for charity during the record breaking attempt.

Ben has spent more than three years preparing for the marathon journey - which is expected to take up to four and a half months.

He's now in Africa for the start of the swim - and plans to set off from Dakar in Senegal, heading to Brazil's Natal.

It's going to be incredible - good, bad, and ugly. I've already got scars from debris and jellyfish - it's just a taster of what I'm in for.

Ben Hooper
Ben's swim will see him tackle 30ft high swells and shark infested waters.

miles Ben plans to swim


hours per day spent swimming

The route is not without its dangers. Ben is likely to face sharks, storms, 20 ft waves and jellyfish.

But Ben is taking no chances with his challenge, Swim The Big Blue. His support boat and crew includes a medic, body therapist and official observer who will be reporting back to Guinness World Records.

A waterproof MP3 player will help with the solitude and monotony of long stints in the water.

ITV News spoke to Ben from Senegal, where he told us he's not nervous, but anxious to get going:

People have previously swum oceans, but the full 1,883 miles - the longeststretch across the Atlantic between continents - has not officially been completed before.

Ben will be following an even longer route to ensure he properly swims every mile required for the record, allowing for deductions to be made for conditions like currents.

Ben has been training for the challenge for the last two years Credit: ITV West Country

Ben said "The idea is to get across safely and I think my only real fear is if something goes mechanically wrong with me."

Beyond that I am not too worried about marine life, I am going into their world, so I need to be respectful. I've already met sharks and jellyfish and nothing has eaten me yet!

Ben Hooper
Ben isn't too worried about the sealife he'll encounter Credit: Ben Hooper

Mr Hooper has been long-distance swimming for years and taken part in amateur triathlons, but has never attempted anything of this magnitude.

After a severe bout of depression, the 38 year old was inspired to change his life - and now wants to inspire others.

He's spoken to thousands of schoolchildren in the UK and the US, wanting to show them that "a regular guy" can achieve something extraordinary.