OCEAN CITY, N.J.— The Special Olympics World Games will be held in Los Angeles in July. For the first time in its storied history, a Triathlon has been added to the competition. This would have never happened without the support and enthusiasm of Lisa Rumer, Program Supervisor of the Ocean City Aquatic and Fitness Center.
The Aquatic and Fitness Center of the City’s Recreation Department has held many successful Triathlon’s over the years. The event consists of a swim-bike-run race and demands stamina and concentration from participants. Rumer is a former Ocean City High School track and Cross Country star. She has volunteered with special needs clients for 23 years at the Ocean City facility.
Rumer believes that the Special Olympics are a positive experience for the special needs athletes. That’s why she became involved in the program as a coach last year. “Their appreciation for the competition is very authentic,” she says. “It gives them a sense of accomplishment and builds self esteem. Parents have told me this.”
With the support of Rumer, The Triathlon made its debut in the Special Olympics’ U.S.A. Games in June 2014 at Trenton. She coached and entered a team from Ocean City. Her squad consisted of 16 athletes, ages 15 to 32. The team trained here under Rumer’s supervision. They swam at the Aquatic and Fitness Center’s Pool, ran on the Boardwalk and biked on the Haven Avenue bike path.
The first Special Olympics Triathlon in Trenton was a success. Impressed by the physical and emotional benefits of the Triathlon on her special needs athletes at the U. S.A. games, Rumer began lobbying to have the sport added to the Special Olympics International competition. She and other Special Olympics enthusiasts played an important roll in convincing World Special Olympics officials to adopt the sport for this year’s international games. The Triathlon has now been added to the competition’s permanent roster thanks to their efforts.
International officials were so impressed with the performance of Rumer’s athletes in Trenton that they selected her to be Triathlon Coach of the United States team in the world competition. She is currently training Triathlon entrants from throughout the country for the upcoming World Games.
The USA Health and Wellness Leadership Committee of the Special Olympics was also impressed with Lisa’s dedication and support of the international program. Marc Edenzon, CEO of the group, has appointed her a member of the Committee, a national honor. Many Special Olympics athletes benefit from the work of this group.
In exemplary physical condition herself, Rumer, 50, still competes and wins prestigious distance races. She is also a member of the Trail of Two Cities Committee that organizes the yearly Run/Walk over the Ocean City-Somers Point Causeway.
ESPN, the Sports TV Network, is covering the Special Olympics World Games. They learned of Lisa’s accomplishments with the Triathlon, were very impressed and will send a film crew to Ocean City to document her story at the end of May.
“It’s important to keep in good physical condition and we can help you at the Aquatic and Fitness Center,” Lisa says. “We have an Olympic size pool, the latest work-out equipment, a racquet ball court and programs to assist every age group. We also have gymnastics, basketball and basketball leagues and host a variety of summer camps at our Sports and Civic Center, 6th St. off Boardwalk. There are many great, healthy activities to take advantage of in Ocean City, no matter who you are.”
For information, access www.ocnj.us/recreation or call (609) 398-6900.
NOTE: In addition to her work with the Trail of Two Cities, Lisa started the City’s Labor Day Run in Ocean City 25 years ago. She is also one of the founders of Ocean City’s popular Half Marathon events. Lisa raised $75,000 last year with a Half Marathon “for kids.” Funds were used to provide scholarships for children to gain athletic enrichment in Ocean City and beyond. Lisa will be helping to supervise the City’s Triathlon/Duathlon for adults and children May 17. All events start at the Aquatic and Fitness Center, 17th and Simpson Ave. For information about Lisa’s accomplishments, contact Wendy Moyle, City Recreation Manager, (609) 525-9301.