The Lake Hopatcong Open Water Swim Festival begin as a charity event to honor one of Lake Hopatcong’s most well-known businessmen, Tom Wear, owner of the marinas on Lake Hopatcong and the Wearhouse Grille restaurant who passed away in 2008 (see bio). Bridgette Hobart, an avid open water swimmer, approached Regina Makowski, Tom’s companion and business partner, with her idea to establish an open water swim to honor Tom. Regina, embracing Bridgette’s idea, quickly teamed up with Bridgette and Esther Poulsen. Esther took charge as Volunteer Director and we’ve benefited from her strong project management skills. The three women received immense support from many of Tom’s other neighbors as well as the community at large. Also significant were the many contributions of Susan Kirk, board member of the NJ Masters Swim Organization, in providing invaluable guidance in securing sanctioning, sharing her many years of experience in event preparation, and her efforts to promote the event.
The first Tom Wear Memorial Swim took place in 2009, with over 100 swimmers taking place in quarter mile and one mile races and swimmers ranging from their early teens to their late 70s. Over eight thousand dollars was raised for the Jefferson Township Animal Pound.
The success of the 2009 swim led to it being selected for the 2010 US Masters One Mile Colonies Zone Open Water Swim championship, bringing athletes from throughout the Northeastern United States. In subsequent years the event has been expanded with races to accommodate experienced and novice swimmers from all over the region and country, with options for passionate competitors as well as “fun” swimmers to enjoy the experience. Our charities have also diversified to three different but vital animal organizations. The event was renamed the Lake Hopatcong Open Water Swim Festival in 2012 to reflect the common enthusiasm we share in open water swimming, and we continue to honor Tom Wear through the quarter mile Tom Wear Memorial Swim.
The event takes place on the beautiful the Woodport Bay section of Lake Hopatcong.
About Tom Wear
Tom was born on October 19, 1949 in Morristown, and was raised in Denville, NJ. He graduated from Morris Knolls High School in 1968 and went on to obtain a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Arizona State University. Tom purchased Prospect Point Marina at the age of 28 and went on to make a success of himself in the Marina business. He subsequently purchased a marina on Brady Road that was nicknamed Marina X as he could not quite decide on a proper name. In 2000 The Wearhouse Grille was opened and has been a successful restaurant in Lake Hopatcong. In 2008, Tom Wear passed away following a seven-month battle with a brain infection. Tom had great vision, was an incredible businessman and was a well known and respected member of the community in Lake Hopatcong. This charity event is in Tom’s honor.