GCU alumni dive into 300-mile research, swim project
Story by Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
What do 100 days, 300 nautical miles of ocean, millions of tons of plastic trash and dedicated yacht crew have in common? They all happen to be the components of The Vortex Swim, an expedition that Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production alumni Josh Muñoz and Corbin Marshall will be dedicating themselves to this summer as crew members.
The Vortex Swim, which launches on World Oceans Day on Saturday, will be a 300-mile endeavor, taken on by French-born long-distance swimmer/ocean advocate Ben Lecomte. He and his crew will collect data and assist in the research of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean. Lecomte will attempt to swim 300 miles through the Garbage Patch, the largest offshore accumulation zone of plastic in the ocean, estimated to be more than twice the size of Texas. The crew will be at sea for 100 days, starting in Hawaii and ending in California. The swim is being sponsored by Icebreaker, a New Zealand outdoor clothing brand.
Muñoz, who was a student in the Digital Design Program and member of the track team, graduated in 2015. He has since put his photography skills to good use, now living and working in Hawaii as a wildlife photographer. Muñoz said living in Hawaii has opened his eyes to issues such as ocean pollution, since he says that by living by the ocean he can see “the cause and effect of excess consumerism.” He is also a master free-diver and is pursuing his boat captain’s license.
Marshall, whose degree is in digital film with a minor in dance education, was a member of the of the cheer team and completed his degree in 2016. He would often practice parkour and had dreams of becoming a stunt man. Like Muñoz, Marshall has since found work and a home in Hawaii, where his goals changed to more behind-the-lens work, and has a job in underwater media and free diving.
The pair will document the crew’s day-to-day life throughout the expedition through photography and videography. They also will assist the scientists on the crew with the collection of data and even, at times, manning the helm of the boat.
“It’s kind of a first of its kind in the fact of how long we’re going to be staying out at the Vortex,” Muñoz said. “It’s something that we can hopefully shed some light on.”
The Vortex Swim will extend through early September. To keep up with Muñoz, Marshall and the rest of the crew on their journey, content will be posted to The Vortex Swim on Facebook, The Vortex Swim or Icebreaker on Instagram, or on the Icebreaker website.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].