How Do You Stay Sane for Months at Sea? | The Swim

How Do You Stay Sane for Months at Sea? | The Swim
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    As the crew of Seeker progresses on their expedition on to raise awareness for ocean health,
    they must brave rough weather and long hours of strenuous duties in tight quarters.
    Being on this boat is a bit like being in a spaceship.
    What I miss the most from land is all the sounds, all the smells, music in the streets,
    cars, voices of people that you don't know, the smell of good food.
    The smell of cheese.
    All the fresh products.
    Members of the crew keep themselves sane with strict routines, secret snack stashes,
    books, movies and games.
    But the games swimmer Ben Lecomte has designed for himself are much more than entertainment.
    They help keep his mind occupied through eight hours of swimming.
    It's not a game that I can teach to a person. It's hard to explain but it's using pictures
    that represent to me some certain numbers and making a series of numbers
    that I remember by the pictures.
    When Ben swam the Atlantic in 1998, solitude and exertion took such a toll on him that
    he took a 6-day hiatus in the Azores.
    Now, with a bigger support crew and a family waiting for him at home,
    he's learned to lay out his thoughts for the like an outfit.
    I go back to the previous day and try to focus on what went well
    and what I could improve.
    Then after that first hour, when I am warm, I am at the right pace, and I will pick another subject up.
    My son never windsurfed, so for me, one activity I would like to do with him is to
    teach him how to windsurf.
    I go through all the detail that will bring me there and try to live that moment with them.
    Not only does Ben have these mental games, but he's also being watched closely by
    machine learning specialist Eduardo Marques.
    I was wondering if we are able to understand the balance between fatigue and performance.
    I want to understand which kind of variables in terms of sociological, in terms of physiological,
    psychological and environmental affects Ben's performance and Ben's fatigue.
    To get a baseline reading of his personality and anxiety levels, Ben took some initial
    evaluations where he scored high on visualization and resilience.
    You can see that the cognitive scale is 17, the somatic scale is 9.
    And the self confidence is 27.
    So Ben has more or less high level confidence, and a low anxiety level so far.
    Every day, the crew the crew captures videos and photographs of Ben after his swim to send to Eduardo.
    You need to take one image from Ben, the entire body, just to analyze the posture, and another one,
    just the top view of Ben, to analyze the facial expression.
    Also, a small video log where Ben is able just to look at the camera and express
    what he's feeling, what he's doing.
    The first step of this is to try to extract meaningful information from all these sources.
    Human Activity Recognition, the idea is to try to understand human behavior with
    the different sources that you might have.
    For images and video, I'm using computer vision techniques to extract Ben's emotions.
    We'll have data from his nutrition, from his physiological condition, the interaction
    between Ben and the crew.
    We'll have the weather conditions, the sea conditions, the wind conditions.
    We will have also the logbook, the distance that Ben was able to travel on that day.
    Eduardo's model will measure the relationships among these variables, and verify which
    combinations affect Ben's mental health the most.
    He will work with psychological analysis expert Sébastien Montel to check if the model's
    predictions are correct, allowing the program to learn and improve over time.
    For instance, does waiting out bad weather like a typhoon increase Ben's mental fatigue,
    or jumpstart his motivation?
    There was a little bit a few weeks ago, when we had rough weather.
    And he just stayed here on deck screaming at the ocean,
    but this was very, very impressive, very powerful.
    It wasn't a depressed screaming, it was really like "Yeah, we're gonna do it! Yeah!"
    I've never felt depressed, or low.
    Of course there are moments that are very difficult and challenging but I look at it in a bigger picture.
    I think Ben holds himself really well together mentally.
    Swimming through all the plastic really motivates Ben to keep going.
    The fact that since day one, we've been seeing trash everywhere, every day, I think for him has
    been very, very sobering. He knows that every stroke he does, it's just one more step forward
    to raise awareness on these issues.
    It's reinforced my determination and my conviction about
    the problem that we have with marine plastic debris.
    Be sure to visit Seeker.com/TheSwim to read daily updates from Ben Lecomte,
    track his progress in real time,
    and watch more videos about the science happening onboard Seeker.
    Click here for this next episode, and don't forget to subscribe.
    Thanks for watching.
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