870 Penguins Plunged To Support Community Hospital

870 Penguins Plunged To Support Community Hospital
Photo by Erik Dowell

OCEAN CITY – More than 800 participants plunged into the Atlantic Ocean last week to raise $102,000 for Atlantic General Hospital.

On New Year’s Day, 870 participants, sporting both costumes and bathing suits, took a dip in the chilling waters off Ocean City for the 28th Annual Penguin Swim.

Despite the cold water temperatures and rainy conditions, organizers say it didn’t stop swimmers from supporting the hospital’s fundraising efforts.

“Weather was warm but rainy, [and] fortunately heavy rain held off until right after the swim,” said Development Coordinator Kam LaBrunda. “Perhaps even more people would have participated if it was sunny.”

This year, a preliminary gross total of roughly $102,000 was raised for health care services in the community.

“The participation from swimmers and spectators was a great demonstration of community support for our local nonprofit hospital and healthcare heroes,” LaBrunda said.

Since its inception, the annual Penguin Swim has grossed roughly $1.6 million in support of the hospital’s mission to provide a coordinated care system with access to quality care, personalized service and education to create a healthy community.


Photo by Tyler Layton

As one of the hospital’s largest fundraisers, the annual swim has become a tradition for hundreds of residents and visitors and many local businesses and community groups. The Ravens Roost team, for example, has contributed nearly $153,000 to the Penguin Swim over the last 13 years. And the Bull on the Beach team has contributed more than $662,000 since the fundraiser’s start in 1995.

Penguin Swim winners, listed in order of award sequence, are as followed:

Youth/Family Teams

“Believe” (Denver, Pa.): $2,295

Zoo Crew (Breinigsville, Pa.): $2,100

Ice Ice Kirbys (Berlin, Md.): $1,450

Community Group Teams

OC Ravens Roost #44 (Ocean City, Md.): $9,057.50

OPST Hammerheads (Ocean Pines, Md.): $815

The Atlantic Club (Ocean City, Md.): $400

Business Teams

Bull on the Beach (Ocean City, Md.): $20,000

OC Wasabi (Ocean City, Md.): $2,000

The Dispatch (Berlin, Md.): $1,150

Adult Individuals

James King (Selbyville, Del.): $1,330

Michael Nelson (Rosedale, Md.): $1,285

Ellen Waters (Ocean City, Md.): $1,025

Youth Individuals

Dennis Tice, Jr., age 17 (Lusby, Md.): $275

Leila Attia, age 13 (Fallston, Md.): $125

Joel Smith, age 13 (Elkridge, Md.): $75

Celebrity Challenge Individuals

Michael Boyle (Ocean City, Md.): $100

Celebrity Challenge Teams

License to Chill (Ocean City, Md.): $3,595

Mike for Mayor (West Chester, Pa.): $450

Delmarva Aces (Berlin, Md.): $25

Special Recognition Prizes

Youngest Penguin: Charlie Draeger (Landsville, Pa.), 1 year, 11 months, 3 days

Oldest Penguin: June Barnes (Fallston, Md.), 91 years, 4 months, 5 days

Traveled the Furthest: Karl Perkins, Euless, Texas

Costume Contest

Best Youth Costume: Sloan Aye (Baltimore, Md.), “Mermaid Princess”

Best Adult Costume: Butch Lorditch (Denver, Pa.), “Genie”

Best Couple Costume: Kelli and Matthew Brozena (Telford, Pa.), “Lifeguard & Shark”

Best Group Costume: Bridgette Garchella and Family/Friends (Ocean City, Md.), “Kiss Covid Goodbye”

“Blingiest” Costume sponsored by Park Place Jewelers: Lindsey Reed, Reagan Reed, Kate Reed, Layla Hamrock and Brooklyn Paul (Berlin, Md.), “Frosty Friends”

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.