Nine years after his unexpected death during his routine ocean swim, Ray Licata's memory will continue to be honored in Long Branch.
The Ray Licata Memorial Swim will be held on Sunday Aug. 18 at Pier Village to memorialize Licata, a community activist and member of the Long Branch swim community.
The event will include the annual 1-Mile Ocean Swim and Walk-Along. The walk-along gives families, friends, and beachgoers the option to walk the beach while swimmers swim the 1-mile water course . This year’s events will begin at 8 a.m. with registration opening at 6:30 a.m.
Licata served as an administrator for the Monmouth County Division of Social Services for 34 years and volunteered for the 9/11 Memorial Project and Deal Lake Commission.
Recently, Glen Rassas, the Committee Chair and Race Director, and other committee members participated in a recognition ceremony at the Long Branch beachfront. The city was presented with a new beach utility vehicle for mobilizing lifeguards for water rescues. The vehicle was purchased from funds raised by the Ray Licata Memorial Swim.
“We are looking forward to another successful event anticipating nearly 300 swimmers participating in the One Mile," Rassas said in a release. "We would like to encourage everyone to come out: swim or walk along the swim route, and support the Long Branch beachfront community.”
Proceeds from this year’s event will be used to support beach safety and Long Branch's junior lifeguard program. The junior lifeguard program is in its fifth year of support from the Ray Licata Memorial Swim and teaches children 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,” Rassas said. "We are proud to have junior lifeguard graduates participating as lifeguards for the City of Long Branch."
The swim is co-sponsored by the Long Branch Department of Recreation and has raised over $57,000 in the last eight years. These funds have been used by the city to purchase two certified lifeboats, a portable defibrillator, a Jet Ski, beach rescue equipment, and two ATV'S.