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Press Release

Long-Distance Swimmer Ben Lecomte Kicks Off the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup on Earth Day

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - April 22, 2014) - In celebration of Earth Day today, global adventurer and open water swimmer Ben Lecomte called on Canadians from coast to coast to join the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, and presented by Loblaw Companies Limited.

Lecomte did a free dive in Vancouver Aquarium's Strait of Georgia habitat and spoke underwater about the impact of litter on ecosystems such as the one represented by the exhibit, as well as the need for all Canadians to take action to ensure the health of our waterways.

Later this year, Lecomte is swimming 8,850 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean from Tokyo to San Francisco. The Longest Swim, a five month journey, will take him through the Pacific trash vortex of chemicals, pelagic plastics and other debris trapped by currents in the North Pacific. Lecomte is swimming the pollution-packed route in order to raise awareness about the importance of making a personal connection with our rivers, lakes, streams and oceans and the shared responsibility of keeping our waters healthy.

"Our way of life is not sustainable," says Lecomte. "I'm a father, and I can't stand by and do nothing while the planet we're passing on to our children grows increasingly unlivable. You don't have to swim across an ocean to help though; we can all make a difference by being aware of our own actions, by minimizing our impact, and by keeping litter out of our waterways. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup does just that."

Trash in our waterways is a threat to our communities, to wildlife and habitat and to our health. Last year, more than 58,000 Canadians helped remove almost 100,000 kilograms of garbage and debris from the shorelines of the country's rivers, lakes and oceans.

"With an issue as complex as this one, it's hard to know how you can help," says Jill Dwyer, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. "Now that the weather is finally turning warm, it's the perfect time to reconnect with nature, get your hands dirty and sign up for a shoreline cleanup. This is an opportunity to take direct action, to clean up litter before it can ever get into our waterways."

Lecomte is calling on Canadians to sign up at as site coordinators or participants in the spring cleanup, on now until July 31, 2014.

About Ben Lecomte and The Longest Swim

The Longest Swim is an epic journey undertaken by global adventurer Ben Lecomte to bring global attention to the issue of ocean pollution. From late 2014 until the spring of 2015, Lecomte will swim from Tokyo to San Francisco, engaging and inspiring people all over the world to take action.

About the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada. A conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, the Shoreline Cleanup aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through cleanups.

About Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life.

About WWF

WWF is creating solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet, helping people and nature thrive.

About Loblaw Companies Limited

Loblaw Companies Limited is Canada's food and pharmacy leader, the nation's largest retailer, and the majority unit holder of Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust.

Note for Editors: Still photographs and B-roll are available, as are backgrounders on the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and The Longest Swim.

The following files are available for download:

Media contacts:

Mohith VJ Kumar (for Ben Lecomte)
Excedo Group Inc

Deana Lancaster
Vancouver Aquarium
604 659 3752

Weiwei Su
416 939 9662

Loblaw Companies Limited
905 459 2500

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