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Olcott Lions Polar Bear Swim for Sight

by jmaloni
Fri, Feb 27th 2015 11:25 am
File photos by Duffy and Wayne Peters
File photos by Duffy and Wayne Peters

By Terry Duffy

The Olcott Lions Club reports that, despite the continuing spate of rough winter weather, its 46th annual Polar Bear Swim for Sight will go on as scheduled this Sunday, March 1, at Krull County Park in Olcott Beach. It starts at 11 a.m.

Hashtagged #FreezinForAReason, "There are none more dedicated to fundraising for worthy causes than polar bear swimmers!" said the Olcott Lions. "And there are no polar bear swimmers more dedicated than those that head to Olcott Beach, to plunge into the icy waters of Lake Ontario to raise money for the blind and visually impaired."

Sponsored by the Olcott Lions Club, the Swim for Sight has been one of the region's most popular winter events for the past 45 years.

The event features what the Olcott Lions describe as "the hardiest polar bear swimmers in America" parading down the hamlet's Main Street and navigating the icy steps and path of the park to the frozen Lake Ontario shore. They are costumed and warm hearted, sponsored and cheered on every step of the way by family, friends and co-workers. 

Participation in this fundraiser is open to all swimmers who dare to try. Entry opens with a minimum $25 donation, with the swimmer receiving an official Swim for Sight T-shirt. For $100, the swimmer will receive an official Swim for Sight T-Shirt plus a sweatshirt. For a donation of $300 or more, the swimmer will receive an official T-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket.

The Olcott Lions have set a fundraising goal of $50,000 for this year's event.

Come Sunday, swimmers and spectators of all ages will come together to spend a winter day at the lake while helping those in need. 

Swim for Sight opens at 10 a.m. with a tailgate party in the hamlet. Onsite swim registration at Krull Park takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In addition to the plunge, this event will feature the annual Polar Bear Queen Contest on shore at 1:45 p.m.

Actual swims into the lake begin for those under 18 at 1:50 p.m. The Swim for Sight for all others gets underway at 2 p.m., with access going first to those swimmers who have raised $100 or more. Access times will continue in 15-minute intervals for all swimmers.

As the swimmers brave the elements, thousands of spectators are expected to gather on the snow-covered terraces of Krull Park, surround the shoreline and encourage their favorite swimmers to frolic in the frigid water.

Event proceeds benefit Lions sight projects and community organizations in Niagara County.

For more information or to register for this year's Swim for Sight, visit www.olcottlions.org, www.firstgiving.com, or stop by at the Lions Pavilion at Krull County Park on Sunday.


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