The 43rd annual Polar Bear Swim for Sight on Sunday in Olcott saw an ice-free Lake Ontario, and an event record high water temperature of 36 degrees. But it was still plenty cold for even the hardiest of swimmers, with the air temperature dropping through the 20s during the day and a stiff wind blowing off the lake. Even with the cold day, 787 swimmers signed up to swim in the lake and raise money for the Olcott Lions Club, while thousands more came to tailgate, see all the wild costumes and watch those brave enough to take a dip in the chilly water.
The always-popular Polar Queen contest led off the craziness, with a plethora of bikinied young contestants vying for the title and frolicking on shore before taking the first dunk of the day into the wind-swept waters. Winning the title of Polar Bear Queen was 20-year-old Mindy Kramp of Newfane.
Then it was the seemingly endless hordes of swimmers, young and old, some dressed out in the wildest of costumes, who continued to dive into the water in waves over the course of nearly an hour.
For those not eager to swim in March, there was great food available on Main Street from the local Lions Clubs. The annual event was a chance to get out of the house and visit with friends while eating and helping local organizations raise money for all the services they provide to the community. This swim can bring in around $20,000 each year, all of which stays locally as the Lions Club helps to fund many services for those with vision problems. (photos by Terry Duffy and Wayne Peters; video by Donald Felice and Duffy)