The impetus to organize the One Mile Swim arises from the untimely passing of a remarkable individual, Ray Licata, who as a Jersey Shore resident loved the beach and always did his part to support shoreline safety and the efforts of the lifeguards. Ray 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 Memoria Project and Deal Lake Commission. As an avid swimmer along the West End beachfront, he knew the waters well and in those rare times when the lifeguard staff needed assistance or an extra set of hands, Ray was there. Ray took care of the beach... he could often be seen collecting unsightly trash, providing instruction to young children first experiences in the ocean, and occasionally helping with rescue efforts when the currents were challenging. He recognized the importance of the lifeguard's role and commented shortly before his death about organizing an Ocean Mile Swim in Long Branch.
Ironically, Ray died shortly after a late afternoon swim. The cause of death is believed to be an arrhythmia; perhaps a portable defibrillator could have saved his life. We will never know. We can, however, take the initiative to outfit the lifeguard staff with one of these devices or similar safety equipment for future swimmers and beachgoers who may come into distress.