British dad launches attempt to become first person to swim the Atlantic

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A British dad has begun his attempt to raise £1 million for charity by becoming the first person to swim the Atlantic Ocean.

Ben Hooper, 38, started his 2,000-mile challenge on Sunday morning when he left Dakar in Senegal, on the west coast of Africa, en route to Brazil's Natal.

(Carley Petesch AP/PA)
One small step for Ben Hooper as he enters the water in Senegal (Carley Petesch AP/PA)

He wants to become the first person to officially complete the full 1,883 miles - the longest stretch across the Atlantic between continents.

Hooper had originally planned to depart on November 1 but was hit by several delays.

(Carley Petesch AP/PA)
Getting ready: Hooper gets his goggles on before making his first strokes towards South America (Carley Petesch AP/PA)

He will be aided during his challenge, Swim The Big Blue, by his support boat and a crew including a medic, a body therapist and an official observer who will be reporting back to Guinness World Records.

The former policeman, who was born in London but now lives in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and previously served in the Army, will swim for up to 12 hours a day for four months, braving the threat of storms, 20ft waves, jellyfish and sharks.

(Carley Petesch AP/PA)
Hooper said that he wanted to inspire as many people as he can on his quest (Carley Petesch AP/PA)

Speaking ahead of the challenge, he said: "The idea of inspiring people is a bonus to turning my life around. I've spoken to 11,500 schoolchildren in the UK and US and they love it - even if it is the idea of me being eaten by a shark."

He said one of his key objectives is to inspire as many people as he can.