Gather to celebrate, gather to swim, gather to donate

The newly installed stairs at Fleming Spit offer a perfect point of entry into Orca Inlet. Photo courtesy of Julie Reynolds

High tide and high energy abounded on a blue bird Sunday, March 20, on the stairs at Fleming Spit near the new Prince William Sound Science Center.

Many gathered around 4 p.m. that day to not only celebrate Ann Solberg’s birthday, but for a good cause as well: raising funds for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Ann Solberg was all smiles in the 38-degree ocean water on Sunday, March 20. She and many friends celebrated her recent birthday, whilst raising funds for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières. Photo by Amanda Williams/for The Cordova Times

“A huge thanks to everyone who came and got wet and to everyone who donated to Doctors Without Borders,” Solberg said. “Doctors Without Borders brings medical humanitarian assistance to victims of conflict, natural disasters, epidemics and healthcare exclusion.”

Solberg was sure to share ahead of the brisk swim what to wear (for her, neoprene gloves, socks and booties were a must) and encouraged others to research cold water swimming preparation.

Solberg, originally from England and has called Cordova home for the past 11 years, shared her love of cold ocean swimming and a major reason she gathered for the chilly plunge that afternoon.

From swim trunks to neoprene suites, swimmers of all ages gathered at Fleming Spit for a brisk plunge into Orca Inlet on Sunday, March 20 for the High Tide Swim Along. Photo courtesy of Julie Reynolds

“People in England swim a lot in the ocean, all year round,” she said. “It helps with stress and immune response; it makes you feel alive. I also wanted to do something to raise money. There are so many people right now who are fleeing homes because life’s not safe, so I am raising money for Doctors Without Borders.”

Solberg’s sister works with the humanitarian organization.

“The big thing is, living here, we have good clean water, were safe, we have homes, access to medical care, and I am thinking about everyone that doesn’t,” she continued.

A swimming we will go! High Tide Swim Along, a fundraiser campaign by Ann Solberg and Lisa Docken, raised just over $1900 as of Wednesday afternoon, roughly $1600 above their initial goal. The donation site will remain open until March 27. Photo courtesy of Altana Hamilton

After Solberg emerged from the crisp Alaskan waters, she was feeling refreshed, surrounded by friends, warm hugs and warm soup on hand.

“I feel great, I feel grateful,” beamed Solberg.

The Fleming Spit stairs, where the group gathered, is a newer addition to Cordova, being built last year.

“The Copper River Watershed Project (lead partner on the build) is thrilled that the community is using the access stairs at Fleming Spit for all kinds of recreation — including swimming!” CRWP Executive Director Lisa Docken said. “Thanks to all that came out for the event.”

The tide and energies were high on a sunny Sunday at Fleming Spit near the new Prince William Sound Science Center. Photo courtesy of Julie Reynolds

To donate to Doctors Without Borders, go to events.doctorswithoutborders.org/campaign/HighTideSwimAlong. The open-swim donation site will be up and active until March 27.