penguin swim

On a cloudless, mildly windy 60-degree New Year’s Day 2023, more than 950 penguins took a dip in the 46-degree ocean during the 29th annual Atlantic General Hospital Penguin Swim, held between 91st and 94th streets. Several hundred more were on the beach to watch the spectacle. About $107,000 was raised for the Berlin hospital.

Maybe the “Red-Throated Loon Swim" or the “Great Cormorant Swim” isn’t as marketable as the “Penguin Swim,” but those species would surely be more indicative of the water temperatures the last few years for Atlantic General Hospital’s annual New Year’s Day dip in the ocean. 

But as it was, nearly a thousand participants once again took to the cool waves off 91st Street to wash off 2022 at the onset of 2023. 

The event grossed about $87,000 on its own and with the fundraising Bull on the Beach contributes every year, the total hovers around $107,000. 

“That money goes right back into the community in the form of free and reduced healthcare opportunities such as flu shots, youth education for healthy eating, hospitals providing additional services, updated facilities, and just really creating and embracing a healthy community,” Penguin Swim co-chair Michael Cylc said.

Both attendance and revenue were slightly up from the 28th annual Penguin Swim last year’s Jan. 1 event. 

“It was a huge success in my opinion,” said Cylc. “We had a very large turnout along with the beautiful weather.”

Jokes aside about the use of the word “penguin,” the weather that Cylc touched on is certainly no deterrent for participants. The water still isn’t warm or safe for extended periods — it hovered around 46 degrees on Sunday — but the 60-degree weather with which it paired was much kinder than some of the frigid Penguin Swims in the past.

“Some feet dipped in, some went full-body in, but we did not encourage any type of diving. In fact, we told people not to,” Cylc said. “But we did see some people taking advantage of (the non-freezing water) to just get in and rinse off 2022.”

The festivities, as usual, included a variety of awards presented to the top individual, youth, community, group, business and family teams for fundraising.

Special recognition was also once again given to the oldest and youngest penguins and the participant that traveled the furthest.

Cylc estimated there were one or two spectators present for every penguin.

“It felt bigger than last year,” he said. “Big factor in that was the weather and, hopefully, we’re on the other side of the pandemic.”

Cylc thanked the community for the support it gives every year to make the Penguin Swim a success. 

“We couldn’t have raised such an amazing amount of money for the not-for-profit community hospital without everyone’s attendance and stepping up,” he said. “It was appreciated. It was a great day for the hospital and community.”

This story appears in the Jan. 6, 2023 print edition of the OC Today.

On a cloudless, mildly windy 60-degree New Year’s Day 2023, more than 950 penguins took a dip in the 46-degree ocean during the 29th annual Atlantic General Hospital Penguin Swim, held between 91st and 94th streets. Several hundred more were on the beach to watch the spectacle. About $107,000 was raised for the Berlin hospital.

Baby NY - Rick Moore, Pasadena, Maryland

Bull walk - Member of the Bull on the Beach team make their way to the beach.

Colby - OC Beach Patrol Sgt. Colby Phillips – joined by Delmarva Shorebirds’ mascot Sherman – pumps up penguins before the swim.

Frosty friends — Frosty Friends team members pose for a photo.

Ice cream girl — Sandy Sanders, Aberdeen, Maryland

OC organics — Ocean City Organics team, from left, Bonnie Bodolus, Kristie Williams, Heather Layton, Skyler Crowley and Branwen Berger.

Sponge bob crew — Team Frosty Paws as "Spongebob Squarepants & Friends,” from left, Morgan Brozena, Monika Virag, Kira Bunker, Kelli and Matt Brozena, Marissa Bologna and Justin Dunbar.

Uni and son — Jeff and 10-year-old Maxon Hashagen, Macungie, Pennsylvania

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