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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

Special Ops, mermaids in 3-day event


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WEEKI WACHEE - What do underwater scuba scooter racers, potential submarines, Special Operations Bionic Warriors and mermaids have in common?

Chances are because this is taking place in Hernando County, that commonality is Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, which is where the third annual three-day Weeki Wachee Warrior Challenge will begin Friday, according to Media Relations Specialist John Athanason.

Event organizer and racer Lisa Mongy said she is trying to get the Springstead High School students on board as well, who built and raced submarines earlier this year in Washington, D.C.

"The high school kids were interested in coming out," Mongy said. "It looks like they'll be doing a demo for the races."

More information about the submarines joining the races will be provided when available, she said.

The event is organized to benefit Special Operations Forces wounded veterans and their families, according to Athanason, and brings veterans from all over the country, most of whom are from Florida.

Along with the underwater races, the Weeki Wachee Warrior Challenge provides specialized scuba training and competitive underwater events created specifically for veterans who have been injured while serving in the U.S. Special Forces.

The event starts Friday with a presentation from the National Association for Cave Diving, sponsor introductions and a night dive demonstration with underwater lights, followed by scuba diving in the Weeki Wachee Spring basin.

"Friday night we have group of cave divers, and we've never done a night time dive," Mongy said. "After the race we'll have the divers and sponsors come out and put underwater lights in to totally light up the pool."

All proceeds from the events benefit SOF Bionic Warriors, according to Athanason.

On Saturday, racers will practice and train for the packed schedule of races on Sept. 22, according to Athanason. Classes, scuba refresher courses and specialized dive training will also be offered.

To register, go to

The event will also feature diver propulsion vehicles or "scooters," and entry is open to qualified divers. To enter the scooter race, go to www.wreck

General admission spectators can enjoy the races along with the world-famous Weeki Wachee Mermaid shows in the comfort of the underwater theater, which provides a view into the clear spring water.

(352) 544-5271

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