24th Annual Penguin Swim Set For New Year’s Day In Ocean City

24th Annual Penguin Swim Set For New Year’s Day In Ocean City
Photo by Chris Parypa

BERLIN – Atlantic General Hospital’s 24th Annual Penguin Swim will take place in the cold waters off of 91st Street next week.

On Jan. 1 of each year, hundreds of individuals brave the chilly conditions and frigid ocean to take part in Atlantic General Hospital’s (AGH) annual Penguin Swim.

Last year, the event attracted 879 swimmers, 47 teams and 45 sponsors and raised more than $101,000 for AGH. The hospital uses the money to fund programs and renovation projects, enhance services and medical technologies and more.

Joy Stokes, special event coordinator for the AGH Foundation, said she expects this year’s Penguin Swim fundraiser to exceed the hospital’s $84,000 goal.

“Our financial goal this year is to net $84,000,” she said. “Last year we went above our goal, so we hope to do that again.”

While New Year’s Day falls on a Monday this year, Stokes said she is hoping for a large turnout. As of last week, the event had garnered 100 swimmers and 22 teams.

“We encourage people of all ages to not only participate, but to attend,” she said.

Stokes explained the Penguin Swim is one of AGH’s largest annual fundraisers and raises money to fund health care services that benefit both locals and visitors each year.

“It helps to provide quality care and improve community health,” she said. “They should participate for community involvement. Even if they aren’t part of the community, they vacation here.”

Like in years past, Stokes said large business and community teams such as Bull on the Beach and OC Ravens Roost #44, for example, will once again be raising money for this year’s Penguin Swim. The OC Ravens Roost, she said, has already raised $11,000.

“Their involvement is huge,” she said. “They (individuals) see the comradery from those organizations … and that trickles down.”

This year, pre-registration and advanced check in will begin Dec. 31 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Premiere Lobby at the Princess Royale Hotel on 91st Street.

Event day registration will begin at 10 a.m. and will end at 12:30 p.m. The Penguin Swim will begin at 1 p.m. on the beach.

Each swimmer is responsible for paying a $25 registration fee, but can contribute more by seeking donations from friends, family and neighbors.

Incentive prizes will be given to all swimmers based on individual fundraising efforts. Every participant that registers will receive an official 24th Annual Penguin Swim t-shirt. Additional incentive prizes – including hats, thermal water bottles, long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts or beach towels – will be given to those who raise more.

An award ceremony will follow the Penguin Swim in the atrium of the Princess Royale.

Special recognition awards will be given to the oldest and youngest penguins, and trophies for first, second, and third place will be awarded to those who raise the most money in their divisions. There will also be prizes awarded for the best costumes.

All activities besides the swim and Erik Cantine’s ice sculpture will take place inside the atrium following the event. All swimmers must register either online or in-person and check-in to receive a wristband to gain access to the atrium and the swim area. Activities include carnival games, face painting, cash bar, Sherman the Shorebird, mermaids and more.

“Each year we try to add something new,” Stokes said, “to make it bigger and better than last year.”

For more information on the Penguin Swim, to donate, or to sponsor, contact Stokes at jstokes@atlanticgeneral.org or 410-641-9671, or visit aghpenguinswim.org.

“It’s a great away to bring family and friends together for a great cause,” Stokes said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.