(July 19, 2019) The annual Ocean Games returns to Ocean City this Saturday beginning on the Caroline Street Beach, downtown.

In 2014, Swim Ocean City was officially sanctioned by the World of Open Water Swimming (WOWSA) and combined with the East Coast SUP CUP, hosted by local company Walk on Water to form the Ocean Games.

The Ocean Games features a World of Open Water Swimming-sanctioned series of three- and nine-mile open water swims along the Atlantic coastline. A three-person team, nine-mile relay has been added.

When a motorcycle accident in 2006 left Ocean Games Race Director Corey Davis with a traumatic brain injury, rendering him unable to walk, the Johns Hopkins Brain and Stroke Rehabilitation Program became his only hope.

After six months of treatment by a team of five professionals, led by neuropsychologist Dr. Kate (Kortte) Bechtold, Davis’ determination and the efforts of the rehabilitation program allowed him to stand on his own two feet again.

“I wanted to bring awareness to traumatic brain injury and show that it is not a life ending occurrence,” Davis said. “Swimmers can take on a challenge and be part of something bigger than themselves and be part of a ‘team’ while doing an individual competition.”

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Participants prepare to swim in the 2017 Ocean Games. The event had been canceled last year as a result of bad weather.

The seventh annual Ocean Games will simultaneously raise funds for the Brain and Stroke Rehabilitation Program, to increase awareness of brain injuries and recovery and promote the positive effects that sports have on the brain and the body.

Since its debut in 2013, the Ocean Games has raised nearly $150,000 for the Johns Hopkins Program and local charities.

Last year, the games was canceled as a result of bad weather. This year, around 70 participants have signed up for the event. Registration for the swim events ended on Sunday, July 14.

Festivities will begin tonight, Friday, at the Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church on 103rd Street with a packet pickup for the nine-mile swimmers and a mandatory safety meeting beginning at 6 p.m., presented by Davis.

Dinner will be provided by Chef Paul Suplee of BoxCar 40. The mandatory safety lecture will take place at 7 p.m.

The swimmers will enter the water at 10 a.m. after a second safety meeting on the beach presented by the Ocean City Beach Patrol, Saturday.

The nine-mile swim will run parallel to the shoreline and follow the direction of the current on race day, which will be determined around 6 a.m. For example, if the current is running north-to-south, the nine-mile race will take swimmers from 146th Street down to Caroline Street.

“It is the length of Ocean City in the ocean and along the coastline just past the surf,” Davis said.

Swimmers will be able to take short breaks by treading the water, however, if they stop swimming or touch land they will be disqualified.

“People take breaks, only to feed and drink, at a specified pace they discuss with the kayak pilot before the swim starts,” Davis said. “Typically, they’ll take breaks every 45 minutes to an hour but that can change with the conditions and the swimmer.”

There will be time restrictions for each race and safety buoys approximately every 1,500 yards.

“A marathon swim is any open water swim over 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles long,” Davis said. “The Swim Ocean City event in the Ocean Games is unique because it’s one of only two marathon swims all in the ocean on the entire East Coast.”

Award ceremonies will take place after the events, which includes trophies for best overall female and male swimmers in wetsuit and non-wetsuit categories.

Spectators are encouraged to watch and cheer on participants. For more information, visit www.oceangamesusa.org.

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