ITHACA, NY – The Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare 2018 event last week was wetter than planned. The 15th annual swim across Cayuga Lake began as scheduled on Aug. 11, but by mid-morning, conditions deteriorated. Rain, cool temperatures and a strong current kept about 30 registered swimmers on shore.

On Sunday, many of these thwarted swimmers will head back to Cayuga Lake. The “Extension of Women Swimmin’” will offer a second chance for swimmers foiled by the weather to make the 1.1 mile crossing.

Women Swimmin’ first began in 2004 with a conversation between an Ithaca woman looking for a unique activity to mark her 60th birthday and her primary care physician. Both women swam across the lake that year and it became an Ithaca tradition.

Anna Kelles, Tompkins County legislator and seven-time swimmer, is organizing the event’s reprise. She said she understands why the Aug. 11 swim was cut short, but that it was still “super painful” for swimmers who had been training and fundraising all season.

Kelles put out a call to see if other swimmers were interested in trying again. Sign-ups and support began to pour in immediately. Fifteen swimmers, a kayak safety team and three pontoon boats are on board.

“The indomitable spirit of the community is unbelievable,” Kelles said. “I am so inspired.”

Sunday’s event is not officially affiliated with the Women Swimmin’ 2018 event organized by Hospicare. Swimmers are nonetheless continuing to fundraise for the organization, which is currently $39,000 shy of its target. This year’s goal is $408,500.

Hospicare provides palliative care to anyone with a terminal diagnosis regardless of their ability to pay, according to their website. Kelles said all donations made to Women Swimmin’ go directly to patient care.

Additional information and a link to make donations can be found at

Registered swimmers who did not have the chance to swim on Aug. 11 are invited to join “Team Shutdown” and can contact Kelles at to sign up.

All are welcome to cheer on the swimmers Sunday. The event starts at 8 a.m. and swimmers should begin arriving on shore at the Taughannock Falls State Park swimming area by 9 a.m.

Featured image: File photo of Women Swimmin’ event. (Courtesy of Women Swimmin’ Facebook Page)

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.