An IT infrastructure engineer planning to swim 3,800 miles across the Atlantic has said he’s “not the best swimmer”.
Michael Ventre will face sharks, killer whales and hurricanes during the challenge, when he attempts to cross from the Hudson River in New York to the Thames Barrier in London.
The South African-born Wimbledon resident said he was hoping to complete the feat in 2017 to raise millions of pounds for Oxfam.
He said: “I’m not the best swimmer in the world but I have always been good at just keeping on going.”
Michael, 37, who has swum the English Channel , completed two Oceans Seven extreme swims and swum in freezing shark-infested waters, said he didn’t know what to expect.
He said: “I don’t know what frame of mind to be in. I can draw on my past experiences, but every swim has offered different challenges, like when I was in the Hawaiian channel and ended up dodging sharks.
“I was also stung by a Portuguese man o' war – you have three stings from one of them you’re gone. I had two and had to decide whether to keep going or not.
“Ice swimming was also a huge challenge. I had to swim 450m with no wetsuit, in water that was -1C and with an air temperature of -17C.”
The Atlantic swim will be a little more forgiving as far as the temperature goes with an average of 9C expected for his April start and warming up as he travels for the estimated five-to-eight months the challenge is likely to take.
Michael, who grew up in land-locked Botswana where “seeing extreme poverty was unavoidable” said those experiences inspired him to undertake the challenge.
He said: “Extreme poverty is measured as anyone living on $1.25 or less a day and the fact there are so many people out there still living like this I think is a human injustice.
“I knew if I did something like this it would give me a bit of a mouthpiece and hopefully it will create a conversation around it.”
So after all that swimming, how will he celebrate?
“I’ll have a victory burrito and a beer, he said. “I’m a bit of a foodie, so that’ll suit me nicely.”
Michael is seeking financial support in the form of brand sponsorship, crowdfunding and donations to help him tackle the challenge.
The Atlantic has been swum before by Frenchman Benoît Lecomte in 1998 but Michael’s attempt is the first time anyone has attempted to swim between New York and London.
See Michael's page here .