Lakeside tailgate party opens at 10 a.m.
√ Lions ‘Swim for Sight’ is oldest such event in NY state
By Terry Duffy
Joining a growing list of activities back on the scene from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olcott Lions Club will hosting its 53rd annual “Polar Bear Swim for Sight” fundraiser at Krull County Park in Olcott Beach on Sunday. The fun gets underway at 10 a.m. and continues throughout the early afternoon.
“Get ready! For 2022, we're back bigger, and better after a rather unique 2021,” the Olcott Lions said. … “We've listened to you and will be doing our famous #freezin4Areason at the historic Olcott Lions ‘Polar Bear Swim/Plunge’ on Sunday, March 6.”
The event was held last year on Sunday, May 23 – months from the traditional early March timeframe. Olcott Lions officials said that, like last year, they’ll continue to err on the side of caution when it comes to holding this popular fundraiser, which typically draws hundreds to the hamlet.
“We delayed announcing the swim during this time when the omicron variant is the new headline each day,” the club said. “We wanted to make sure we were confident that we could keep both participants and spectators safe. Being a completely outdoor event, and with experience abiding by all CDC and Niagara County Health requirements, just like we did during our last swim in May 2021. That is why we're confident this next 53rd annual Olcott ‘Polar Bear Swim for Sight' will be safe.”
Olcott Lions official Aaron Dey of Youngstown welcomes residents to attend this year’s happening and join in the fun. As in past years, the “Swim for Sight” opens Sunday morning with a tailgate party that continues throughout the day until 4 p.m. Look for such activities as the woodcarving raffle, servings of firefighter’s chili and chowder, plenty of vendors, a chicken barbecue, food and beverages provided by area Lions Clubs on Main Street, and the annual Niagara County firefighters “Tug of War” competitions at the park. Swim registration opens at 11 a.m. and continues to 2 p.m.
Leading to that is the “can’t miss” Polar Bear Queen Contest held on the beach alongside the Lake Ontario shore ice at Krull Park beginning at 1:45 p.m. The event can be viewed from spectator areas in the park located above the beach.
Shown are scenes from recent Olcott Lions ‘Swim for Sight’ events. (Olcott Lions photos)
And from there, “Swim for Sight” itself will get underway, with a throngs of swimmers dressed in their creative best. They’ll begin their jaunts into the lake waters, which are expected to be in the mid-30s.
Swimmers aged 18 and under will go first beginning at 1:50 p.m. and the adults continue from 2 p.m. onward in 15-minute intervals. As in past years, Lions officials said hundreds of participants are expected to participate in this annual swim – the oldest such event in New York state – which benefits Olcott Lions Club projects.
“Participants, whose numbers are projected to be in the hundreds, have, in many cases, been participating for decades, are taking to the water and ice and joining first-time participants who will all be #FREEZIN4AREASON,” Dey said. “The annual swim has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars assisting those with visual impairments. It has also continues to support many other local registered charities that help Western New Yorkers in need.”
While the weather is expected to be mild Sunday, with temps in the mid-50s and rain, Lions officials, nonetheless, recommend all visitors – particularly those intending to swim – come prepared.
For more information on this year’s “Swim for Sight,” including registration, visit www.swimforsight.com or the Olcott “Polar Bear Swim for Sight” page on Facebook.