OCEAN CITY — Buoyed by the success of the inaugural Swim Ocean City event last summer, plans were announced this week for an expanded format this July, including a Stand-Up Paddleboard race and other kid-friendly activities.
The inaugural Swim Ocean City event last summer, which featured a series of open ocean swimming races including a grueling nine-mile race for experienced swimmers and three- and one-mile races for novices, was highly successful on all fronts, including the competition in the water and the amount of funds raised for the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Neuro-Rehabilitation Program (ONRP).
Conceived and organized by resident Corey Davis, who, after suffering a major motorcycle accident a few years ago, was the beneficiary of ONRP at Hopkins, the inaugural open ocean race last July included around 200 swimmers competing in the three races and grossed over $22,000 for the program and other beneficiaries.
The success of the inaugural event last July has prompted Davis and other race organizers to expand the program for the second annual event, set for July 19, including a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) race for both experienced and novice paddlers. In addition, the second annual event this summer will also include several kid-friendly events. Rebranded as the “Ocean Games,” the event will once again be held for the benefit of Hopkins’ ONRP along with some additional funds set aside for other interests.
“It was such a successful event last year that we decided to expand on it this year and include other events and festivities,” said Davis. “The focus will continue to be on the ONRP program, which helped me recover from my motorcycle accident, but we’re also thinking about setting aside some of the proceeds for the beach patrol, for example, which played such an important part of the first event. There could be some benefit for other local charities. Last year, for example, a lot of the food that was left over was donated to the Diakonia shelter.”
The ocean swim portion of the event will remain largely unchanged in year two, according to Davis. The event attracted just under 200 swimmers last year competing in the various distances. The courses again will be laid out just off the coast of the resort and the direction will be determined by the prevailing current on race day.
The major addition this year is the stand-up paddleboard race, already deemed the East Coast SUP Cup. Ironically, the addition of the SUP race to the event this year comes at a time when the Ocean City Mayor and Council is debating the merits of allowing SUPs in the ocean under the same rules as surfing. The brainchild of the local Walk on Water SUP company, the race will be held near the Inlet and will include an elite course and an amateur course.
According to Davis, the SUP Cup will include a triangular course laid out near the Inlet. Experienced SUP racers will do two laps around the course, getting out of the ocean after the first lap, running down the beach with their boards and getting back in the water for a second lap. The amateur race will include just a single lap around the course.
In addition, the Ocean Games event will include kid- and family-friendly events, face painting, food and live music and other activities aimed at creating a festival atmosphere along the beach on the day of the event. Davis said this week the changes are part of a larger effort to grow the event.
“This is organized to be a great event for all involved, all for the benefit of this worthy organization and other deserving organizations. We want to grow it to be successful, but not too much all at once. It’s probably going to evolve into a larger event,” he said.