Olcott Polar Bear
Swim for Sight

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Polar Bear Swim For SIght Questions and Answers


What kind of weather can be expected?

Over a 5-year cycle, we will have one year that is unusually mild and spring-like with sun and temps in the 60s, then one other year it could be miserable with a fierce wind and freezing rain, but in the other three years expect typical early March weather -- temps in the 30s or 40s, a noticeable wind off the lake and possible rain or snow.

How do I find out about lodging?

To view area lodging, go to    http://olcott-newfane.com/

Can I wear a costume?

Absolutely!  Many swimmers and spectators wear costumes.  Just remember, you still need to protect yourself when it’s cold and you may be in crowded places at times.  Also, please keep your costume respectful; there are families, children and neighbors.

Is there a place to change clothing?

We have established a ‘Women’s changing area’ in the rear of the registration site at the Lion’s pavilion, but there is NO restroom and you must take your belongings with you.  Many folks simply change in their vehicle or even hold blankets around each other.

Are there restroom facilities?

Portable sanitation units are located throughout the area.  Depending on conditions, the Park’s East Main St. restroom near the Lions Pavilion is sometimes open.  Restrooms are available for customers at area businesses.

Can I get food at the Polar Bear Swim?

Local restaurants and businesses in Olcott serve food, although some change and limit their menus on Polar Bear Day. Food is available on the street, which is provided by area Lions Clubs, not-for-profit organizations and volunteers.

Is alcohol available?

The Lions Club and event organizers do not serve alcohol.  Alcohol can be purchased at local establishments licensed by the state.  Many participants bring beverages with them for responsible personal consumption.  The closest alcohol retail sales are in Newfane.  There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving and underage consumption.

Is a ticket required to participate in the Swim?

All swimmers must register on the day of the swim at the Lions pavilion.  Swimmers are given a card with their swim time which allows the swimmer and one helper access to the beach. 

How do I donate funds I have raised for the Swim?  Can I use a credit/debit card?

Swimmers are encouraged to use the fundraising site FirstGiving.com to promote your participation in the swim and collect donations.  You can also submit contributions using cash, check, credit and debit cards when you register for the swim at the Lions Pavilion.  And you can use the Swim website, olcottlions.org (look for the ‘Donate’ button) ... but you must still register onsite the day of the swim - print and bring your email receipt with you if you register onsite.


Get Ready!  Follow These Steps

Set a fundraising goal -- many find $100 or more is easy and reasonable to achieve!

There are 3 Ways to Raise Funds, Register and Participate ...

  • Go to FirstGiving.com  Create your personal fundraising page in minutes.  It’s quick, easy and FREE.  Friends can raise money for you and contribute using credit cards and more.  FirstGiving lets you link to your friends using email and social media, track your contributions, share stories and photos  ... you and your friends everywhere can work together to spread the word, follow your progress and help you meet your goal.

  • Use this website ... Download or use the Sponsor List and Contributions sheet. This sheet helps you keep track of your donations (it’s not required).  Raise funds by asking friends, co-workers, family and acquaintances to help you. Many will gladly donate $10, $20 or more!  Use Email, Facebook and other social media to let people know you are participating and need their help.   Submit your contribution using the ‘Donate’ (PayPal) button on this site, or contribute when you arrive to register March 6.

  • Use a time-honored personal touch ... Make personal requests to those you see and ask them to help you.  Raise funds by asking friends, co-workers, family and acquaintances to support you. Many will gladly donate $10, $20 or more!  Download or use the Sponsor List and Contributions sheet (not required).  Submit your contribution when you arrive to register March 6, or give online using the ‘Donate’ (PayPal) button on this site.

All swimmers must check-in onsite March 5.

  • You can download and print the 2017 Registration Form from this site and bring it with you.

  • You can also complete your registration using the FirstGiving website.

  • Registration forms can also be completed when you arrive onsite March 5.

Your donations are submitted safely, securely and electronically when you use FirstGiving or the PayPal ‘Donate’ button on this site.

Cash contributions, checks, credit and debit card donations are accepted when you register on March 5.


What about swimmers under 18 … Is there an age requirement?

Swimmers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian or provide written permission from a parent or guardian.

Young participants must be able to walk to the beach and water on their own and must have the physical and emotional maturity to be in a crowded and congested environment with icy conditions and rough terrain.

Participants should not carry young children on the stairway or into the water due to potentially icy conditions, rough terrain and crowded surroundings.

Where do I park? What is the cost?

There is ample parking in or near the area and parking is not a problem if you arrive early.  Those arriving later may need to walk a bit, but there is no fee for parking unless it is a privately owned lot. 

Is there handicapped parking and access?

Yes, with a valid handicap sticker, traffic personnel will direct you to the Krull Park terrace area along Ontario Street above the beach.

Is there a designated parking area for tailgate parties?

Those arriving early get the best spots.  Most tailgaters gather on the open streets adjacent to Krull Park and in the area around the village square/gazebo. Please keep in mind, you must set up in a public use area that is safe, does not impede traffic and swim operations, and does not affect residential properties.

Where do buses and limos park?

There are designated areas for full-size bus parking.  See parking map for more information. 

Premium Bus and Limo Parking is available at the corner of West Main and Lockport Streets, across from the Lighthouse Grill -- a fee applies (see green on map). 

Reserved Bus Parking - Groups arriving by bus can reserve a limited number of locations in the vicinity of Main and Ontario Streets and the village square, between Lockport Street and the Carousel -- there is no fee but a reservation must be made prior to March 4 (see red on map).

Unreserved Bus Parking is located off East Main Street at the corner of the park access road to Route 18 (see blue on map). 

Drop-Off Bus Parking - Bus operators can also drop-off passengers in the village and park in the municipal lot at the east end of Ontario Street, and then return to pick-up up passengers upon departure (see gold on map).

Limos, Vans and Small Buses -- There is no designated area for limos and smaller transporters and no reservation is needed.  Most drivers are able to find a spot in the village area and like to move around (except - if the limo is the size of a bus, then you will want to follow the options outlined for buses above).

Modification of this policy and reservations may be necessary if unexpected snow or local vehicles restrict space and access in the village.


When is the best time to arrive and leave?

If you arrive by noon or so, there is plenty of time to get ready, register, look around and visit with friends prior to the 2pm swim.  After the Swim, traffic and congestions are heavy for about 30 minutes, so most folks simply plan to ‘chill’ and visit for a while until things open-up.

Where can I get cash (ATM)?

There are ATMs at Lighthouse Grill-n-Spirits, Time Out Sports Bar and the East Side Market

Are there indoor places we can gather before and after the swim?

There is no public indoor gathering facility, but many customers gather at area businesses before and after the swim.

How should I dress as a spectator, or as a swimmer?

In layers, for changing conditions.  There is often a biting March wind off the lake that makes it noticeably colder than it is away from the lake – but then the sun can come out!

Swimmers must have footwear and it is important to remove and change wet clothing quickly once you exit the water to avoid hypothermia.

I am not swimming but can I accompany someone who is swimming?

Swimmers can have ONE helper accompany them to the beach; other friends or family can view and wait in the terrace or park above the beach

How can I get pictures of someone who is swimming?

It is difficult; unless you are the swimmer’s designated helper.  Even for a helper on the beach it can be hard because of the crowd. It works best if you take photos before they go to the beach.  Spectators are NOT allowed on the stairway to the beach.

Where is the best place to watch the swim?

The terrace area above the beach west of the stairway along Ontario Street is for spectators

Can I buy a swim T-Shirt?

Non-swimmers can register for the swim and make a donation, just like swimmers.

Who do I contact if I would like to help with the swim?

Please email: swimforsight@hotmail.com

What if I raise funds but I am unable to attend?

Please go to olcottlions.org to make credit or debit card donations.  You can contact swimforsight@hotmail.com or mail your contribution to:

Olcott Lions Club
Box 316
Olcott,  NY   14126

Can I be a vendor at the event?

Please see our vendor policy at http://www.olcottlions.org/Vendor_Policy.pdf.



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