2023 Women Swimmin' for Hospicare

IMPORTANT: Optional Paddler Training Clinic CANCELED

The Women Swimmin’ Safety Team has canceled the Optional Training Clinic on Monday, August 7th, due to inclement weather. See you on Friday evening at 7 PM at Ithaca High School’s Kulp Auditorium for the mandatory pre-swim Boater Meeting!

Paddler and Boater Information

With an anticipated 300+ swimmers, support on the water from paddlers and power boats or wave runners is critical!  The vast number of boaters helping at Women Swimmin' for Hospicare are paddlers using kayaks, canoes, or SUPs. We'll need the help of about 120 experienced paddlers. Because of the complexities of escorting swimmers and partnering with other paddlers, and the length of time spent on the water, paddling for Women Swimmin' is not a task for new or novice paddlers.

Boater & Paddler Registration is now closed. Thank you all that have registered and we will see you soon!
Mandatory Boater Meetings

Attendance at these meetings is required by Hospicare's insurance carrier in order for you to participate in the event.

  • Mandatory Power Boaters and Wave Runners: Thursday, August 10, 2023 at 7:00PM located at IYC.
  • Mandatory Paddler Meeting: Friday, August 11, 2023 at 7:00 pm located at Ithaca High School in the Claude L. Kulp Auditorium 1401-1439 North Cayuga Street, Ithaca, NY 14850

At the meetings you will:

  • Receive instructions for the morning of the swim, including your responsibilities.
    • Escort Paddlers will receive their Swimmer Pod assignment.
    • Line Safety Paddlers will receive their KST “Buddy” assignment.
    • KST will receive radios and position assignments, as well as Line Safety Paddler ‘Buddy’ assignments.
  • Receive your Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare baseball hat. This hat is your ticket to breakfast.
  • Pick up a whistle, if you need one.
  • Ask any last-minute questions.
  • Meet other boaters, volunteers, and Hospicare staff.
  • Have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for a sweet watercraft and merchandise.
  • Submit any additional funds raised.

Boater and Support Paddler Roles

Line Safety Paddlers (LSP): We will assign 30 Line Safety Paddlers to partner with Kayak/SUP Safety Team (KST) members and rove a zone along the edge of the course, maintaining the tightest and most direct course possible. LSPs are responsible for providing rest and assistance to swimmers and helping pass swimmers from pod to pod/escort to escort.

Escort Paddlers (Escort):
 We will assign 3 Escort Paddlers to paddle across the lake with each pod of 8-10 swimmers. Escorts are responsible for guiding swimmers across the lake in the most direct line WITHIN THE COURSE, providing rest and support as needed for all swimmers in their pod and passing slower/faster swimmers to other escorts as pods break up and recombine.​

Kayak/SUP Safety Team Paddlers (KST):
KST members are experienced kayakers and SUPers with self-rescue skills and assisted rescue skills, responsible for supporting all swimmers and paddlers on the course. If you have paddled as KST in the past, please register as KST. If you are interested in joining the KST, have self-rescue skills, a complete kit of safety equipment, and a kayak with flotation fore and aft or are rescue trained on your SUP, please register as a support paddler and say YES to the question ‘Are you interested in joining the Kayak/SUP Safety Team’.

Powerboaters/Wave Runners:

Powerboaters will be stationed along the downwind edge of the course, outside the Kayak Safety Team & Line Safety Paddlers, close enough to the course to see and hear calls for assistance but not so close as to have exhaust impact swimmers or paddlers. Power boaters will have at least one other person onboard to observe the course, binoculars, towels, and standard safety equipment.

Wave Runners will rove a section of the downwind side of the course and be responsible for removing swimmers who need to leave the course. Wave Runner operators must be skilled with their craft and able to physically assist fatigued swimmers onto their craft.

Requirements for Paddlers

Volunteer Paddlers may use Kayaks, Canoes, or SUPs and MUST be proficient with their watercraft, able to paddle across the lake in 15-20 minutes and comfortable staying in/on that craft for between 2 ½ and 4 hours.

As a boater for Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare, you agree to: 

  • Sign our liability waiver and publicity release.
  • Attend the Mandatory Meeting (Thu Aug 10 for power boaters and Fri Aug 11 for paddlers)
  • Arrive at the Ithaca Yacht Club (IYC) on swim day with enough time to unload your boat, park your car, launch your boat and paddle to your assigned spot:
    • Line Safety Paddlers (LSP) arrive by 6am
    • Escort Paddlers arrive 75-90 minutes before your pod’s scheduled start time
  • Stay home if you feel sick or have a cough, a fever, or are having difficulty breathing.
  • Email womenswimmin@hospicare.org if you need to cancel.

You agree to have the following equipment:

  • A personal flotation device (PFD). Your PFD must be securely fastened (fully buckled or zipped) at all times when you are on the water.
  • A spare PFD or throwable flotation device, secured to the deck of your craft to throw to a swimmer in distress.
  • The designated 2023 Women Swimmin' baseball hat at the event. The hat identifies you as a registered participant and must be worn. 
  • A whistle attached to your PFD (for those without one, we’ll provide the whistle  at the Mandatory Paddler Meeting).
  • In your boat you should have sunglasses, sunscreen and water.  

Safety Information for Women Swimmin'

Please review the the Safety Information page and especially the WS Safety Manual for Swimmers & Paddlers to understand our event safety plans, procedures and expectations.

What to Expect on Swim Day

Whether this is the first time you're paddling for Women Swimmin' or the 20th time, please review the information below. Some information is new this year, so all paddlers should review the information.

What Paddlers Can Expect the Day of the Swim

Parking and Unloading at the Ithaca Yacht Club

To streamline the parking and unloading of boats, stop and unload your boat before parking. “Boat Sherpas” will be available to help you off-load your vessel and assist in carrying it to the launch site, if needed. There will be a Paddler Check-in station near the boat launch to the IYC marina. Please check in there after unloading your boat and before launching. It is critical that you also check out at the end of the event so we know everyone is accounted for.

ARRIVE EARLY! This will allow you enough time to unload your boat, park your car, launch your boat and paddle to your position lining the course or across the lake to pick up your pod.

  • Line Safety Paddlers (line the course with KST) should arrive at the Ithaca Yacht Club (IYC) on Swim Day at 6am.
  • Escort Paddlers (travel with swimmers) should arrive at IYC 1 to 1.5 hours before their Swimmer Pod is scheduled to go in the water.
  • Paddlers should not leave the marina before the KST, around 6:45am. KST will distribute Line Safety Paddlers across the lake and lead the Escort Paddlers to the east shore. When you reach the swim entry ramp on the east shore, check in with the Escort Wrangler who is stationed in a kayak near the swim entry point.

Crossing the Lake

Please read the WS Safety Manual for Swimmers & Paddlers for details about what to expect at the start of the swim and as you're crossing the lake.

After the Swim

If you're an Escort Paddler who is also a Super Paddler, return to the East shore for your next pod assignment. All other Escort Paddlers are encouraged to join the LSP & KST lining the course. When you've finished your assigned duties, you should exit at the launch station at the Ithaca Yacht Club (where you put your boat in the water in the morning). Check-out with the volunteer at the tent by the launch when you're finished.

Boat Sherpas can help you get your canoe or kayak back to your car.

Port-a-potties are on the far side of the IYC, near the North Dock.

Enjoy a good breakfast, with our compliments for a job well done! Your friends and family can also have breakfast, for a suggested donation of $5. Stick around the IYC and listen to the music of The Yardvarks and enjoy the festivities. After all the swimmers and paddlers are ashore, we'll have closing ceremonies to draw the name for the stand-up paddleboard raffle, will announce winners for top fundraising prizes, and will announce the total amount raised for Hospicare!