By Josh Kim, Staff Writer
(Dec. 24, 2020) Join the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation for an icy dip in the Atlantic Ocean on New Year’s Day for the foundation’s 27th annual Penguin Swim fundraiser event.
“It’s a great opportunity for everyone to wash away 2020, while honoring and supporting the healthcare heroes in our community,” event co-chair Michael Cylc said.
The Penguin Swim came to life almost three decades ago under the direction of Atlantic General Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Daniel Carlin.
The inaugural event took place at the beach behind the Carousel Hotel on 118th Street, and participants raised more than $10,000.
“People that raised $100 were presented with a terry cloth robe with the Penguin Swim logo provided by Mr. John Howard Burbage, owner of the Style Guide in Berlin, [and] they were officially inducted into the Penguin Club,” Cylc said. ”
While the robes have long since been discontinued, Cylc said the foundation is considering bringing the prize back in the future.
Proceeds raised during the event help fund essential services, hospital programs, equipment and staff at Atlantic General Hospital.
“The event has continued to grow since then,” Cylc said, adding that it relocated to the Princess Royale Oceanfront Resort on 91st Street in 1997.
Last year, 713 “penguins’’ or participants joined the chilly charitable festivities and raised more than $89,000.
As of Monday morning, 173 participants have registered and have already raised $37,210 of an $80,000 goal.
This brings the total amount raised since the event’s inception to approximately $1.5 million.
“The Penguin Swim is very much a community event,” Cylc said. “We know this year has been extremely hard on everybody so everybody that has given even the smallest amount, a penny, we have been extremely thankful for because every bit helps.”
This year’s Penguin Swim will look a bit different because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Traditionally, the event takes place both indoors and outdoors at the Princess Royale, but all indoor components have been eliminated this year.
Additionally, face masks will be required at all times, save for those who plan to fully emerge themselves in the water. Once they are out of the water, however, masks must go back on.
The event’s footprint has expanded, as well, and encompasses the beach from 91st to 94th streets.
“Once people drop off their money that they’ve raised at any of our [drop off] locations — 91st, 92nd, 93rd and 94th [streets] — then they will get their T-shirts and wristbands, which will enable them to cross the dune and go to one of 200 cones that we’ll have set up on the beach.”
There is no registration deadline, and participants may pre-register online or on-site. Registration costs $25 per swimmer.
Advanced check-in, both online and on-site, will begin on New Year’s Eve from 1-5 p.m., at the Princess Royale.
On New Year’s, check-in will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m., again at the Princess Royale, and the swim will begin at 1 p.m.
A virtual award ceremony is in the works, with special recognition awards for oldest and youngest swimmers, as well as first, second and third place trophies for those who raise the most money in each sponsorship division.
As of Monday morning, the top fundraisers in the business, community group or organization, youth/family and celebrity challenge divisions were: Bull on the Beach on 94th Street ($2,255); OC Ravens Roost #44 ($4,120); Team jedi and The Brrrrrrr’ng Kirbys ($500); and the GlenRiddle Golf Club ($2,625), respectively.
Individual participants who raise more than $100 will be eligible to win an official 2021 Penguin Swim long-sleeve T-shirt, while supplies last.
Participants quarantined because of the virus, or those who feel uncomfortable attending the event, may still participate by registering and fundraising online and uploading online a photo or video of themselves diving into the icy Atlantic using the hashtag OCPenguinSwim.
“We all look forward to embracing a much healthier and better 2021,” Cylc said.
For more information, call 410-6419671, visit www.aghpenguinswim.org or find the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.