HANNAWA FALLS — With temperatures hovering in the lower 60s at about 8 a.m. Saturday, swimmers taking part in the Swim a Mile for Hospice event at Postwood Park stayed bundled up until just before they were called into the water.

In the end, 60 swimming fundraisers took to the water to paddle their way around the one-mile course and raise $30,000 for Hospice.

This is the 10th anniversary of the first Swim a Mile for Hospice event and 60 swimmers is about an average number, Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence County CEO Ruth Fishbeck said.

The money raised by the swimathon is important to the organization Ms. Fishbeck said.

“It goes a long way towards paying for the programs that aren’t reimbursed by insurance,” she said. “Programs like Community Bereavement and We Honor Veterans, we don’t get paid for, so this really helps to keep them going.”

The idea for Swim a Mile for Hospice came from a similar program in Tompkins County, the agency’s development director Kellie Hitchman said, and was started here by the then development director Brad Catling.

“I knew that there were a lot of people around, who could do this,” Mr. Catling said. “There are a lot of people with camps, who swim. There could be older people who could swim a mile and there could be younger people who could swim a mile. It just really fit nicely.”

Swimmers enter the water at Postwood Beach and accompanied by kayaks swim around the lake guided by large red buoys. Each swimmer is assigned to a pod of swimmers, who all wear the same colored swim cap and are all expected to swim at about the same pace. The fastest swimmers go first so no groups overtake another group.

It is decidedly not a race.

Some swimmers can finish the course in 20 minutes while others take more than an hour.

The event’s web site describes swimmers stopping to chat and dog-paddle as they move around the lake. Several of the swimmers have been attending for the entire 10 years of the event, Mr. Catling said.

“I remember taking the idea to the board or the first time and there were a lot of quizzical looks,” Mr. Catling said “But they came around.”

The event has always drawn about the same number of people, Mr. Catling said, but the fundraising has improved.

Each swimmer is required to raise at least $100 but most go well beyond that.

In the 10 years of the event, Hospice has raised $240,000, Ms. Fishbeck said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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