Swim the Big Blue expedition enters new arena

22 APRIL 2015

Global swimwear brand Arena has been revealed as the official technical sponsor of Swim the Big Blue, the British pan-Atlantic swimming expedition.

The Italian-based company confirmed its involvement yesterday afternoon following ongoing discussions with the project’s UK team. In a statement, Arena revealed that it has designed and developed a groundbreaking new shark-deterrent wetsuit that promises to “minimise the risk of attack” during Briton Ben Hooper’s 2,000-mile ocean swim.

Arena remains tight-lipped about the technology, but said that the suit will be trialed in open water for the first time in August when Hooper, 36, will swim from Rome to Sardinia as part of his training schedule.

Further details about the wetsuit are expected to be released in coming months.

The Swim the Big Blue expedition, which boasts explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes as patron, takes place between November 2015 and January 2016.

Hooper, a father-of-one from Gloucestershire, England, aims to become the first person to swim from mainland Africa to South America – a record-breaking feat that Sir Ranulph describes as “one of the last remaining bastions of exploration”.

Giuseppe Musciacchio, Arena’s brand development manager, said: “This is an incredible and historic feat of endurance thatis perfectly aligned with our ‘water instinct’ brand philosophy.

“We look forward to seeing our newly developed wetsuit in action, and to supporting Ben and the Swim the Big Blue expedition in the role of technical sponsor.”

Speaking about the new wetsuit, Greg Steyger, Arena’s Global Category Manager for Racing added: “We are developing a specific wetsuit for Ben which will be designed to help him deal with the challenges that he will be facing on his epic adventure, including sharks, jellyfish and marine stingers.”

The Swim the Big Blue expedition is set to be one of the greatestever feats of human endurance.

Hooper, a former soldier and police officer, will swim up to 12 hours-a-day in two six-hour shifts, and looks set to encounter 30ft-high waves, jellyfish, sharks, flying fish - and the fierce equatorial sun.

He will be accompanied by support vessel and 15-strong team that include maritime experts, documentary filmmakers, marine biologists, sports science researchers, and medical staff.

An independent observer will also be present to verify the team’s measurements, which will include the calculation of drift during rest periods that must be factored into the swim.

The ultimate goal is for Hooper to become the first man to “explicitly and transparently” make a full mainland-to-mainland crossing – from Dakar Harbour in Senegal to Natal in north-east Brazil - measured as the crow flies at 1,731 miles (2,786km).

Hooper’s strict training schedule comprises six days of endurance, sprints, gym work, and cycling.

He is currently in the US where he is training with Arena’s Elite Team open water swimmer, Ous Mellouli (doub-corr). Hooper will undertake a swim around the Florida island of Key West in June, when the new wetsuit may also be worn.

Speaking yester, Hooper said: “I am over-themoon about Arena’s involvement. The Arena brand develops cutting-edge technology and has an inspirational ‘water instinct’ ethos. With Arena’s help and support, we can prove that nothing is impossible.”

Swim the Big Blue is raising vital funds for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres, Addaction (drug and alcohol treatment), SOS Children’s Villages, and the Plastic Oceans Foundation (POF), a charity that is dedicated to reducing plastic pollution in the environment.

To donate or to learn more about the Swim the Big Blue expedition, go to www.swimthebigblue.com