Villager takes to water to promote good cause

Doug Troyer, of the Village Alhambra, swims at the Lake Miona Recreation Center pool. Troyer is training for a relay swim around Honeymoon Island on June 20 to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics program in Marion County.

Doug Troyer has done plenty of swimming.

The Village Alhambra resident has completed open water relays and triathlons and 10K pool swims. Next, he’ll take to the water for another long-distance effort, this time for a good cause.

On June 20, Troyer will complete a relay swim around Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin to raise money for the Marion County Special Olympics chapter.

“I’m just putting the word out there,” Troyer said. “Any bit helps, especially at this time.”

Originally, Troyer had planned the relay swim around Key West, part of an annual event on the island. This year, the swim was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Troyer adapted and decided instead to make Honeymoon Island the site.

The total length of the swim is 12.5 miles — nearly identical to Key West — which Troyer will split 1 mile at a time with his relay partner, Aditi Kumar of Ocala.

“Usually, in the winter, we do 100 x 100 in the pool,” he said. “We do 100 yards, 100 times, so that’s 6.2 miles. That’s why we thought doing 6 miles at Key West was doable.”

The 100 x 100 swim event Troyer participates in also is to support the Special Olympics.

Kumar, who is a member of the Ocala Triathletes Club and signed on as Troyer’s relay partner just last week, was excited about the opportunity to swim for the cause.

“Special Olympics raises awareness by showcasing the incredible ability and resilience of challenged athletes, creates opportunities that fit their needs, shatters stereotypes, and fosters an inclusive culture in sport and society,” she said. “It is so important that we come together to support this cause.”

John Robles, Special Olympics senior manager of community engagement for Area 3, which covers six Central Florida counties, was extremely grateful to Troyer for taking the initiative to use the swim to benefit the organization.

“That means a lot, not only to me but it means a lot to our athletes to be represented by other athletes,” said Robles. “They’re able to look up to people like Doug and see how far they can push themselves.”

He also was impressed by the distance of the attempted swim.

“(It’s an) incredible accomplishment to swim that far,” Robles said. “Very challenging.”

Adding slightly to the challenge is the fact that Troyer’s training regimen was hindered over the past couple months.

“When COVID happened, that closed all of the pools in The Villages so that was a challenge, finding places to swim,” he said.

While Troyer would normally swim every day, during the months of March and April he had been limited to a few times a week, finding open water or utilizing a pool two hours away in Cocoa Beach. However, he’s kicked things into high gear in recent weeks as June 20 nears, swimming every day at either the Lake Miona Recreation Center sports pool or Rainbow River in Dunnellon.

“I’ve been training hard now for the last two weeks, knowing that we’re going to do it,” Troyer said.

“Now that Rainbow River has opened up and the pools have opened up, it’s a lot easier.”

To support the Special Olympics, visit give.specialolympicsflorida.org/swimchallenge.

Staff writer Drew Chaltry can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5233, or drew.chaltry@thevillagesmedia.com.