LONG BRANCH: It has been ten years since Ray Licata, community activist and member of the Long Branch swim community, died unexpectedly late one summer afternoon following his routine ocean swim.
To honor Ray’s memory, the Ray Licata Memorial Swim Committee will conduct that the annual One Mile Ocean Swim and the Walk-Along and return of the Fun Swim on Sunday Aug. 17, 2014 at Pier Village in Long Branch.
Swimmers and non-swimmers are welcome. The One Mile Walk-Along gives everyone a chance to participate. Families, friends, and beachgoers can walk the swim route on the beach front as swimmers swim the one mile course. The Fun Swim lets future swimmers take to the water as well.
This year’s events start 8 a.m. with registration opening at 6:30 a.m.
Ray Licata was a Jersey Shore resident who loved the beach and always did his part to support shoreline safety. He served as an administrator for the Monmouth County Division of Social Services for 34 years, retiring in 2002. He also volunteered for the 9/11 Memorial Project and Deal Lake Commission.
An avid swimmer, Ray knew the West End waters well. And he took care of the beach. He was often seen collecting unsightly trash, providing instruction to young children during their first experiences in the ocean, and occasionally helping with rescue efforts.
Ray recognized the importance of the lifeguard's role. Shortly before his death he began organizing an Ocean Mile Swim in Long Branch. Today the committee is fulfilling Ray’s vision. The Ray Licata Memorial Swim Committee Members are enthusiastic about continuing the Walk-Along, which allows many more people to participate in this community event.
“We look forward to another successful event honoring our 10 year anniversary and anticipate nearly 300 swimmers will be participating in the One Mile,” commented Event Director Glen Rassas. “We encourage everyone to come out: swim or walk along the swim route, and support the Long Branch beachfront community.”
Proceeds from this community event will support beach safety as well as the City’s junior lifeguard program, now in its sixth year. The program will teach children and adolescents the basic requirements of beachfront safety, swimming, and lifeguard skills.
“It is our hope to give young members of our community, particularly those who do not have the financial resources to enroll in such a program, an opportunity to learn how to promote ocean safety and potentially become a member of the Long Branch lifeguard team,” said Rassas. "We are proud to have junior lifeguard graduates participating as lifeguards for the City of Long Branch."
Organized by local residents of Monmouth County, the Swim is co-sponsored by the Long Branch Department of Recreation. Over the past eight years, the swim has raised over $64,000 which has been used by the City of Long Branch to purchase two certified lifeboats, a portable defibrillator, a Jet Ski, beach rescue equipment, two ATV'S, and a floating wheelchair. All of this equipment is now in use to protect the many residents, vacationers, and visitors to the Long Branch beachfront.
Since its inception 10 years ago, the committee has improved the fun and quality of the event. This year, the event will utilize computerized chip timing in addition to its special swimmer recognitions.
The swim begins and ends at Pier Village. Hundreds of spectators will enjoy the opportunity to observe and participate in the day’s activity. Members of the Organizing Committee include: Glen Rassas, Ray Licata, Jr., Irwin Mizrahi, Lisa Ferrigno, Mark Levy, Theresa Licata McConnell, Ali Dadmarz, Joe Ferragina, Dale Mortenson, Barbara Dweck, and Jeanne Zucker.
For more information refer to the event website www.RayLicataMemorialSwim.com or contact Glen Rassas, 732-222-2932 (evenings) or go online to RayLicataMemorialSwim@yahoo.com