2023 Women Swimmin' for Hospicare

The 20th Women Swimmin' for Hospicare

Women Swimmin' for Hospicare is a community swim (not a race!) for women ages 18 and over. Early in the morning on August 12, approximately 300 women will swim across Cayuga Lake, a distance of 1.2 miles. The swimmers will be supported by more than 125 boaters guiding them from the east shore to the Ithaca Yacht Club, where more than 100 volunteers, plus friends and family, will greet them with cheers and congratulations.

Fast, experienced swimmers make the crossing in 35 minutes while others take more than an hour, stopping to tread water and share stories of loved ones with their fellow swimmers and support boaters. Speed is not important: what matters is sharing a unique experience on Cayuga Lake and raising money for Hospicare in the process. 

"Go the Distance for Hospicare"

Since 2020, we have invited our entire community (all ages and gender identities) to join us in Going the Distance for Hospicare.  Each participant chooses a meaningful activity to complete (such as running a mile every day, paddling a certain distance in the lake, or doing a particular workout or craft project) and then works to achieve this goal while raising money for Hospicare from May 9 through August 12, when we gather to celebrate all our participants on their success. 

Those who have Gone the Distance include past swimmers, boaters, volunteers and supporters– there’s no limit on the number of people who can be involved in this community event!​

How it works:

Registration for participants--swimmers, paddlers, and Go the Distance fundraisers--opens at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (Please note registration for Lake Swimmers closes when we reach our maximum of 325 Lake Swimmers!) There is a registration fee to participate; however, this fee is applied to your minimum fundraising goal. You'll have your own participant page where you can tell your story and share why you're participating in this event. You can share your page with your friends, families, colleagues and loved ones to ask for their support in helping you reach your goal. Many participants customize their pages with photos or video of their activity or training, or share a story about a loved one who was helped by Hospicare. 

All money raised benefits the work of Hospicare & Palliative Care Services. Join us for this spectacular summer tradition! Swim the lake, be a boater, volunteer, fundraise, or set your goal for how you want to GO THE DISTANCE for Hospicare in 2023! 

History of Women Swimmin' for Hospicare 

In 2004, an Ithaca woman was looking for a unique activity to mark her 60th birthday. Her primary care physician suggested she do something she'd always wanted to do. The woman said, "Swim across Cayuga Lake!" Her physician offered to join in the fun. and together they decided to invite others and to make it a fundraiser for Hospicare. That inaugural 1.2 mile journey launched Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare!

In its first year, Women Swimmin' for Hospicare raised over $54,000. Now, in our 20th year, the annual event raises more than $400,000 -- a demonstration of the incredible generosity of people in our community and the recognition of Hospicare’s impact on patients and families throughout Cortland and Tompkins counties.

In 2015, we launched Women Swimmin' Laps for Hospicare to allow participants the option to raise money for Hospicare while swimming any distance in any pool with a certified lifeguard. Women Swimmin' Laps allowed women to participate in this community swim, even if they weren't able to cross the lake on swim day. Laps swimmers have participated in pools as far away as Hawaii and Singapore! 

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic upended our usual way of doing things. Unfortunately, it wasn't safe to gather hundreds of swimmers, boaters, and volunteers together in 2020.  Instead, we invited anyone (of any gender identity) to fundraise through Going the Distance for Hospicare, the companion fundraiser to Women Swimmin' for Hospicare. Participants from across the country and around the world participated in Go the Distance for Hospicare by walking, biking, volunteering, and yes...swimmin'!

Now Go the Distance is a permanent part of Women Swimmin' for Hospicare, even now that women are back in the lake, valiantly swimming from the east shore to the west shore!