The Londoner was apparently gripped by a sudden urge to spread the Olympian spirit across the globe, daily Paris Normandie reports.
The man set off from a beach in Biarritz in the south-west of France, saying he would swim all the way to New York in the US. Friends on the seaside joked that a boat would rescue him if he struggled to make it there.
Luckily French lifeguards spotted him beyond the 300m authorised limit for swimmers on Saturday afternoon.
They called out a helicopter and dropped a diver into the Ocean who tried to convince the man to abandon his trip to the US.
"Our diver told him swimming to the US was not a good idea," says captain Laurent Saintespes, a senior officer at the Biarritz airbase. "But he insisted he was a capable swimmer and felt fine."
"It’s quite a crazy story, but at a time when the Olympic Games are taking place in London you have to see the funny side of things," says Saintespes.
He adds however that the swimmer did take a lot of risks, swimming far out to sea with no equipment, facing large waves and dropping temperatures.