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Partiers take on the icy Lake Ontario waters at last year's Swim for Sight. (File photo).
Partiers take on the icy Lake Ontario waters at last year's Swim for Sight. (File photo).

Olcott Lions will Swim for Sight on Sunday

Fri, Mar 3rd 2023 10:25 am

Annual swim benefits Olcott Lions programs

By Terry Duffy


We’re into March, and it only seems appropriate that another chapter in our weird weather winter season should coincide with the holding of a long-time outdoors favorite.

Coming off the paralyzing blizzards that struck many parts of the Buffalo area in November and December, winter for the most part has been a no-show here ever since. Scant snowfalls and above-normal temps have been the norm. NYPA crews have even begun the process of pulling out the ice boom.

Yes, winter pretty much has been absent – at least up to last week, as a pretty significant ice storm struck parts of the area. Now there’s forecasts of a heavy dose of winter blowing into Western New York come Friday and into the weekend from those storms that have hitting out west.

Well, at least call it good timing for a WNY winter favorite this Sunday.

The 54th annual Olcott Lions Swim for Sight returns that day to the Lake Ontario shores at Olcott Beach. The main fundraiser of the host Olcott Lions, “Swim for Sight has been one of, if not the region’s most popular winter event for 53 years,” proclaims a club post on Facebook.

Sponsored this year by the Basil Family Dealerships, including Basil Toyota and Basil Volkswagen, this “FreezinForAReason” benefit opens at 10:30 a.m. with Bills-style tailgating throughout Olcott Beach to 4 p.m.

“It’s a great way to enjoy Olcott, all whilst partaking in lots of food vendors and the day’s activities until the swim,” the club stated.

Events include a tug-of-war between Niagara County fire companies in Krull County Park above the beach. Sponsored by the Olcott Fire Co. the ninth annual competition starts at 10:30 a.m.

“It’s open to all fire companies in Niagara and surrounding counties and features firefighters in turnout gear competing in a round-robin style tug of war tournament,” organizers stated.

The winner takes a travelling trophy back to their firehall. Last year’s event was won by the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co.

Other activities include vendors of all kinds on the streets of Olcott Beach surrounding Krull County Park as Swim for Sight registration continues. Food and drink is also available for purchase at restaurants and businesses in the hamlet.

“Swimmers and spectators come together to spend a day enjoying the beauty of the southern shores of Lake Ontario in one of the nicest maritime communities on the Great Lakes. There will be plenty to see and do for the entire family,” organizers said.

The Swim for Sight Polar Bear Queen contest will be held on the beach, as swimmers in all types of costumes gather nearby.

“As the swimmers brave the elements, thousands of spectators gather, safely spread out on the terraces and upper shoreline of Krull Park to encourage their favorite swimmers to frolic in the frigid water!” the Lions Club stated.

They invite readers to come out and be part of the “Polar Bear Heroes Party.”

Preregistration is $50 to enter ($60 on the day of the event), with a T-shirt provided to all swimmers. The Lions also have a number of fundraising levels available for swim participants and supporters that include some neat apparel.

“The Swim for Sight Polar Bear Swim is a fun day of fundraising that helps Newfane and Western New York organizations provide health, safety and recreational services in our community,” the Lions said. “Consider taking the plunge or sponsoring a swimmer, or making a general donation to support the brave souls that are ‘FreezinForAReason.’ ”

For more information, visit polarbearswim.org or the Olcott Lions pages on Facebook.

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