OCEAN CITY – Get your penguin suits ready because it is that time of year for the 17th Annual Penguin Swim to benefit Atlantic General Hospital (AGH).
According to Amy Unger, director of development for AGH, the Penguin Swim is designed to be a fun event that raises funds to support the hospital, and they do that by inviting people to jump into the Atlantic Ocean and have their friends and family help them raise money.
The first penguin swim took place on the beach in front of the Carousal Hotel with only a small group of swimmers and spectators.
“It has only gotten bigger and better each year,” Unger said. “We receive a lot of returning penguins and more and more people come in from out of town to participate as well.”
Last year, the event had 550 participants and hit the $500,000 mark in donations.
“We are hoping that we exceed last year’s numbers,” Unger said. “We’re basing that on since New Year’s Eve is on a Saturday this year we’re hoping more people will participate and the weather forecast is looking gorgeous.”
The money raised goes toward AGH’s strategic plans.
“Each year, the hospital establishes new strategic plans and all money raised by foundation events…goes toward this year’s strategic plans,” Unger said. “In other words, the money is used where it is most needed.”
The event welcomes individuals and teams to participate in the Penguin Swim.
“I know that a lot of teams have worked very hard, particularly the Bull on the Beach team led by Phil Houck,” Unger said. “They have done a ton of work to make this year even more successful then in the past, and they’ve been our leading team fundraiser for many years.”
Last year, the Bull on the Beach team raised $20,000. Prizes are given out to those who raise the most.
“Each year we mix up the prizes I think this year we have some really cool prizes,” Unger said. “We have a snuggie, fleece jackets and last year we had some penguin hats that were really popular so we brought them back again this year, and we will put this year’s logo on there. I really think it is going to be a whole lot of fun this year.”
New Year’s Day is forecasted to hit a high of 52 degrees, and the water is expected to be around 36 degrees.
Those who would like to participate can show up on Saturday, New Year’s Day, to register at noon. There is no minimum to participate but if contribute at least $25 you are eligible for prizes. The swim will be held at 1 p.m. on 91st Street in front of the Princess Royale Hotel.