Gary Frisch: polar swimming for hunger


As filed last week for the Philadelphia Business Journal, to run in last Friday’s edition.

There are those who seek out an opportunity to swim in a frigid lake in March.

“Honestly, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Gary Frisch, company president of Swordfish, a public relations agency in Voorhees, N.J. “I’ve been itching to do it, though maybe a little afraid, scared of how my body would react.”

Of course, there are also those who just want to watch.

“It’s funny, more than a hundred were out on the beach, but only 15 or 20 stripped down to their swim suits,” Frisch said. “Everyone else was there to gawk. I was just the one idiot who swam a little farther out.”

After living in the area for three years and hearing of past chilly dips, Frisch finally got his chance when the Sturbridge Lakes Association in Voorhees, N.J. hosted a “Polar Plunge” at one of its lakes and raised $1,150 for Cathedral Kitchen, which provides meals for residents of Camden, N.J. who need the service.

“I’d be happy to do it the future,” he said. “Not that I will be swimming laps, but I know I won’t drop dead of a heart attack the moment it happens.”

He was the highest single contributor, more than $300, and stayed in the longest of the other participants, nearly one minute, he said.

“It was shocking when I first went in, but my body adapted quickly. I could have stayed in longer, but I wasn’t certain how my body would react physically.”

Every $50 donated to Cathedral Kitchen can feed 20 people, Firsch said. That’s more than 120 meals Frisch supplied. He’s also on the committee of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

On May 20, the group is hosting its 8th annual Spring Golf Classic at Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill, N.J., featuring Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jon Runyan. See more at

“Sponsorships available,” he said. Cold lakes not required.

See other examples of my reporting here.

Leave a Reply