Ocean City Today

Annual Penguin Swim takes place New Year’s Day in OC

Attendees raise money for Atlantic General Hospital on 91st Street each year
By Kara Hallissey | Dec 28, 2017
Approximately 880 participants plunge into the 43-degree Atlantic Ocean on New Year’s Day 2017 during the 23rd annual Penguin Swim, a fundraiser for Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin. The weather was sunny with a high of 52 degrees.

(Dec. 29, 2017) Organizers expect more than 1,000 Penguin Swim participants during the 24th annual event, where people run into the ocean at 91st Street on New Year’s Day as a fundraiser for Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin.

“The 2018 Penguin Swim promises to be filled with fun and excitement,” AGH Event Coordinator Joy Stokes said. “It is one of our largest fundraisers in support of Atlantic General Hospital’s mission to create a coordinated care delivery system that will provide access to quality care, personalized service and education to improve individual and community health. All proceeds from this event benefit the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation.”

Registration and check-in for the 2018 Penguin Swim will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 1, at the Princess Royale Hotel on 91st Street, with the swim starting at 1 p.m. The cost is $25 per swimmer.

Early registration and advance check-in will be available on Sunday, Dec. 31, from 2-4 p.m. at the hotel.

“Come to advance check-in and registration at the Princess Royale in the premier lobby on New Year’s Eve to be eligible for pre-registration incentive prizes,” Stokes said. “We will be handing out Penguin Swim mood-changing cups.”

There will be ice art on the beach created by Erik Cantine and the Princess Royale will also offer a number of activities including carnival games, girls dressed as mermaids in the heated pool, Sherman the Shorebird mascot, costume contests, live entertainment, a selfie station and face painting.

In 2017, 879 swimmers on 47 teams participated, raising $101,640 for the hospital. There were also 45 sponsors, Stokes said.

“The 2017 Penguin Swim enabled the Atlantic General Hospital and health system to strengthen programs, enhance services and medical technologies, attract the best clinical staff, fund renovation projects and maintain a healing environment in the coming year,” she said. “The community involvement is overwhelming, whether you are a volunteer, visitor, Ocean City local, business or organization. All ages coming together to ring in the new year, have fun and make memories for a great cause.”

Swimmers will also have other incentives and each registered participant will receive an official 2018 Penguin Swim T-shirt.

Penguins who raise anywhere from $50-$99 have the choice of a Penguin Swim plush hat or stainless steel thermal water bottle while those who collect $100-$249 will take home an official Penguin Swim long-sleeve T-shirt or sweatshirt. Swimmers who collect $250-$499 will be given a Penguin Swim beach towel, and anyone raising $500 or more will be able to choose one prize from each level, Stokes said.

The top three donors from each category, which includes individuals and adults, teams, businesses, community groups, youth and family and 18 and under, will be awarded trophies and prizes. There will be costume contest prizes awarded and special recognition will be given to the oldest and youngest penguins.

Prizes will be announced during an awards ceremony, which will follow the swim inside the Princess Royale atrium and there will be $1 carnival games with prizes for winners including frog hop, hoop shoot, football toss, bottle ring toss and cover the spot. In addition, there will be girls dressed as mermaids in the pool, Lollipop the Clown will offer face painting, there will be a cash bar, live entertainment and apparel sales in addition to a selfie station.

For the fifth year, participants who will be out of town on New Year’s Day can engage in a “virtual swim.” These penguins still raise money and register online on Jan. 1, but must take a photo of their dip wherever they are and post it to social media sites. The photos will be shared at the event through a live feed. To show out-of-town photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, use the hashtag #OCPenguinSwim.

Before swimmers take the plunge, the Bull on the Beach team will parade down the beach in honor of being “the Emperor Penguin” and a legacy sponsor who has participated for 24 consecutive years.

Organizers are always looking for sponsors and checks can be made out to the AGH Foundation and mailed to: 9733 Healthway Drive Berlin, Maryland, 21811.

“Any individuals, business or organizations can still sponsor and help make the event a great success,” Stokes said. “The Penguin Swim is one of our largest fundraisers in support of Atlantic General Hospital.”

For more information on event sponsorship opportunities, call 410-641-9671 or email  jstokes@atlanticgeneral.org.

To sign up for the 24th annual Penguin Swim or to make a donation, visit aghpenguinswim.org or text PENGUIN to 51555. The event can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/penguinswim or call the hospital foundation office with questions at 410-641-9671.

Proceeds from the event support strategic plans started by Atlantic General Hospital and back its mission to improve individual and community health.

“Funds raised help the hospital provide the excellent quality care our community depends on,” Stokes said. “Individual and team fundraising efforts by Penguin Swim participants enable Atlantic General to continue to provide that care.”

The hospital has been providing health care to residents of Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties in Maryland as well as Sussex County, Delaware, since May 1993. Since its inception, the Penguin Swim has raised more than $1 million for the hospital.

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