Penguin Swim Attracts 900-Plus, Raises $109K For Atlantic General Hospital

Penguin Swim Attracts 900-Plus, Raises $109K For Atlantic General Hospital
Penguin Swim participants are pictured entering the chilly waters off 91st Street during Monday’s fundraising event. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – More than 900 people braved the chilly ocean waters off 91st Street this week to raise funds for Atlantic General Hospital.

On New Year’s Day, 910 participants – sporting costumes and bathing suits – took a plunge into the Atlantic Ocean for the 30th Annual Penguin Swim. This year, the hospital reported a gross fundraising total of roughly $109,000.

“It’s incredible what the community does to support this event,” said Ryan Kirby, Penguin Swim co-chair.

The Penguin Swim is one of the hospital’s largest fundraisers, becoming an annual tradition for hundreds of residents and visitors and many local businesses and community groups. This year, for example, legacy sponsor Bull on the Beach raised more than $20,000, while the Ocean City Ravens Roost raised more than $9,800.

Officials say the event is unique in many ways, particularly in the way it attracts swimmers from both near and far to raise money for community health care services.

“The best thing about the Penguin Swim over its 30-year history is all the money raised stays right here in Worcester County to better healthcare services for our community,” said Atlantic General Hospital Foundation Chair Steve Green, a three-year Penguin Swim participant. “It’s the local residents, visitors and businesses coming together in a festive atmosphere to kick off the new year with a cold plunge to support our community hospital. We had swimmers of all ages, from 9 months to 83 years old, this year as well as swimmers from as far as California. The event keeps getting better each year.”

This year, the Bull on the Beach team kicked off the 30th Annual Penguin Swim with its traditional parade down the beach. Afterwards, more than 900 individuals made their way into the chilling waters in front of the Princess Royale. Organizers say warmer weather and sunny skies contributed to another successful fundraising year.

Kirby said funds raised from the Penguin Swim will benefit the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation, which provides philanthropic support. He noted that money will be used to fund things such as community health screenings and hospital equipment.

“It will assist the hospital with things that aren’t in the budget,” he said.

Kirby said he wanted to recognize AGH Foundation staff members Laura Powell, Jessica Jersey and Toni Keiser, as well as Penguin Swim committee members, for their organization of this year’s fundraising event. He also thanked the community for its generosity.

“A big thank you to the community for supporting the 30th Annual Penguin Swim,” he said.

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

Youth/Family Teams

Team Believe, $3,325

Owrey’s Owls, $1,590

Ice Ice Kirby, $1,500

Community Teams

OC Ravens Roost, $9,842.99

License to Chill, $2,325

Atlantic Club Beach Warriors, $1,350

Business Teams

Bull on the Beach, $25,828

Charles Brown Glass, $510

The Dispatch, $190

Adult Individuals

James King, $1,275

Matthew Lynch, $700

Ed Fratantuono, $250

Youth Individuals 

Leila Attia, $1,007

Delaney Whittington, $105

Dezzy Wegrzyn, $100

Special Recognition Prizes

Oldest Penguin: Nelya Kuvshinova, 83 years old

Youngest Penguin: Lauren Beasley, 9 months old

Traveled the Farthest: Ashley Humphreys, Boulder Creek, Calif.

Best Youth Costume: Madison Pecover, “Cow”

Best Adult Costume: Butch Lorditch, “Mad Hatter”

Best Couples Costume: Christy and Randy, “Ken & Barbie”

Best Group Costume: Isaiah and Malani, “Maui & Moana”

Blingiest Costume: Frosty Friends

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

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.