Olcott Polar Bear
Swim for Sight

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Olcott Lions Club

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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.  Restrooms are available for customers at area businesses.

Can I get food at the Polar Bear Swim?

Local restaurants in Olcott serve food, although choices and menus may be limited 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 restaurants licensed by the state for onsite consumption.  Many participants bring beverages with them for responsible personal consumption.  The closest food and beverage retail stores 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.

NewSpecial Requirements for Swimmers Under 18

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

Parents must determine if young swimmers have the physical and emotional maturity to be in a crowded and congested adult setting that features challenging terrain that can be icy and slippery.  Young participants must be able to walk to the beach and water without being carried.

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

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

Swimmers submit their contributions using cash or check when they register for the swim at the Lions pavilion.  We do not accept credit or debit cards at this time, but credit card use is being considered for the future.

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 bus parking.  Click here to see parking map.

Premium Bus 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 1 (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).

There is no designated area for limos and most drivers are able to find a spot in the village area.

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

Where can I get cash?


There are ATMs at Lighthouse Grill-n-Spirits and the Time Out II Sports Bar.

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 email: 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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