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Latitude Margaritaville resident is world starter for Olympics swimming

Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach resident Denice Wepasnick recently returned home from Tokyo after serving as the second woman world starter for men ’ s swimming at the Olympic Games in Tokyo . If you watched the competition , Denice was the person saying " Take your mark !" as the swimmers stepped to the block and prepared to dive into the water .

Everyone at Latitude Margaritaville was very excited about Denice ’ s big honor and adventure in Tokyo . Upon her pre-dawn return to Latitude Margaritaville , neighbors were waiting — dressed in red , white and blue and waving American flags — to give her a rousing welcome home . “ We pulled up to our gate and there were people everywhere with signs saying welcome back !”

While Denice was never a competitive swimmer , she got into competitive swimming because of her children ’ s involvement . “ I went to all of the swim meets and they were looking for volunteers . They put me on the timer .” Then Denice ’ s son was unfairly disqualified while he was on the block preparing for the start . “ I said , ‘ How do I become

a starter ?’ I ’ ve been doing that for about 25 years and , at this point , I ’ ve started close to 300 races ,” she says .

“ When a swimmer is on the block it sets the tone for the rest ,” says Denice . “ The swimmers step up on the block and I kind of know their rituals . I watch them to make sure they are ready and then I say , ‘ Take your mark .’ They hear my voice over and over again and know I ’ ll take care of them .”

Denice started on the road to Tokyo when she was a starter for the Hangzhou China FINA World Short-Course Championships 2018 and was seen there by officials . Starters have to have started races internationally to be considered for the Olympics . Each country puts forward a name or two . One starter has to be from the host country and that starter is assigned to the women ’ s events . Then they pick someone from the world they believe is the best starter for the men ’ s events . Denice was selected as the 2020 Olympics world starter and worked with the Japanese starter . “ It was an honor and a privilege ,” she says .