OCEAN CITY – Unseasonable water temperatures challenged swimmers in last weekend’s 1st Annual Swim Ocean City event, but approximately 200 individuals overcame the chilly waters for a good cause.

Regional businesses and swimming enthusiasts sponsored an Open Water Swim in Ocean City last Saturday, July 20, to benefit the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Neuro Rehabilitation Program. The event featured one-mile, three-mile and nine-mile distances for qualified swimmers of all ages.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for both swimmers and tourists to challenge their abilities in open water, and more importantly to be a part of the good work being performed by the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Neuro Rehabilitation Program,” said Crossing Currents Aquatics Swim Coach Traci McNeil of Annapolis/Riva, a life-long open water swimmer who successfully completed an English Channel Swim in 1994. “The Ocean City swim is patterned to provide the novice and experienced open water swimmer alike a safe and structured environment.  The swims run parallel to the shoreline and are conducted in cooperation with the phenomenal Ocean City Beach Patrol and Coast Guard.”

With a north current that day, the Inlet marked the starting point for the nine-mile course and 146th Street was the finish line. The three-mile start was at 92nd Street, and the one-mile start was on 131st Street, both also ending on 146th Street.

For the nine-mile swim, out of 20 registrants, Zack Goodman came in first with a time of 3:11:27, Thomas Everett came in second with a time of 3:21:45, and David Speier came in third with a time of 3:40:49.

There were 66 registrants for the three-mile swim. Peter Galan came in first with a time of 1:07:43, Nick Breschli came in second with a time of 1:07:46, and Meredith Gouger came in third with a time of 1:09:47.

The one-mile swim had 64 registrants. Bridget Bartley came in first place with a time 29:59, Ryan Witters came in second with a time of 30:52, and an anonymous swimmer finished third with a time of 32:21.

The swim, which organizers say brought 500 people to Ocean City through the participants and their supporters, was conceived by Corey Davis, who was treated at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Neuro Rehabilitation Center following a brain injury he suffered in a motorcycle accident.

Davis could not finish the nine-mile swim as the 62-degree water temperature was too cold and he was pulled from the water two miles in. However, Davis is no rookie when it comes to long distance swimming as he just finished a 7.5-mile swim in June, and in 2012 he completed a 4.4 miles in the Chesapeake Bay Swim.

“The event went very well in my opinion even though it is almost as busy trying to wrap it up as it was planning for it,” he said. “I am looking forward to next year.”

In 2006, Davis and his motorcycle were forced off the road at 50 mph and sped into a ditch. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet. He spent seven weeks in a coma, followed by stays in several different hospitals, Shock Trauma and a rehab center. Through it all, Davis felt the many therapists and physicians were not coordinating efforts to address his needs.

That is when Davis met Kate Kortte, a neuropsychologist in the Hopkins department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s Outpatient NeuroRehabilitation program, which specializes in treating people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and others with brain damage as a result of stroke, tumor, or infection.

Kortte’s work coordinated Davis’ care among five of the unit’s 12-member team of occupational and physical therapists, speech language pathologists, and rehab physicians.

Six years later, thanks to Kortte’s team and his inner drive, Davis has learned to navigate his TBI. His focus and memory have improved to the point that he re-qualified for both his driver’s license and certification as a boat captain. Triathalons are once again part of his routine, and both Kortte and Davis are convinced that his diligent efforts in biking, swimming and running are greatly benefiting his cognitive abilities. Additionally, his speech processing is world’s better than the nearly unintelligible utterances that marked his emergence from the coma.