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Join swimmers of all ages and skill levels for the SAA - Chicago Open Water Swim in beautiful Lake Michigan. Choose either the 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 1.5 mile, 2 mile relay or 3 mile option to support cancer research and leading-edge patient care at Rush University Medical Center.


Online registration is now closed. Day of Registration will be available at Ohio Street Beach beginning at 6:30 AM Saturday morning. Fundraising minimum still applies for day of registration.

Team and individual rankings for fundraising awards will be decided by 4pm on Friday July 28th.

Swim Across America - Chicago is an open water swimming event that takes off from Ohio Street Beach and raises money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment. Each summer, swimmers have the option of swimming 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 1.5 mile, 2 mile relay or 3 miles in Lake Michigan to raise money for the Rush University Cancer Center. Learn more about each of our events below:

Chicago Open Water Swim

July 29, 2017
This swim leaves from Ohio Street Beach and takes you out into beautiful Lake Michigan for a distance of your choice (1/2 mile, 1 mile, 1.5 mile, 2 mile relay or 3 miles). All ages and skill levels are welcome! Click here to register!

Swim Across Lake Michigan

Date: August 18-19, 2017
Participants in SALM (Swim Across Lake Michigan) will swim relay-style 43 miles across the lake, with two to three swimmers in the water together for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. SALM swimmers are expected to raise at least $5,000 regardless of your age. Please contact Sean Russell with any questions or to register for SALM.


General Fundraising Requirement:

All swimmers are required to raise at least $500 by event day. Swimmers under 18 are required to raise $300 by event day.

WaveMaker Swimmer: $1,000 minimum:

WaveMakers are elite SAA fundraisers and go above and beyond the call of duty by pledging to raise at least $1,000 regardless of your age. You can sign up for any of the distances. WaveMakers get an exclusive WM gift and access to the WM village on event day where they will have access to other perks and swag.

Swim as an Individual, or on a Team:

A person may elect to swim alone, or be part of a team. Many colleagues and college alumni will form teams, or teams may be formed in honor or memory of a loved one. All teams are inspirational and rewarding for all of us involved with Swim Across America. All team members are still required to meet the individual fundraising minimum of $500.

Distance Options:

  • 0.5 Mile
  • 1.0 Mile
  • 1.5 Mile
  • 3.0 Mile
  • 2 Mile Team Relay (1/2 mile loop, 4 swimmers on the relay)

Relay Info

Want the chance to swim with friends or compete against others for bragging rights and specials prizes? Participate in the event as a part of a 2-mile relay, where 4 swimmers compete 1/2 mile loops of the relay course. This is a great opportunity for your company to match fundraising efforts or sponsor your relay team.

Registration Fees:

There is a registration fee that will be credited towards each swimmer's fundraising minimum. The registration fee will change as follows:

  • Register before May 13th with a registration fee of $25
  • Register between May 14th and June 17th with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between June 18th and event day with a registration fee of $100

Online registration will close 48 hours prior to the swim! Event day registration may still be available if space permits.


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver found here.

What to Bring

In addition to your waiver and additional donations, please remember to bring the following items: sunscreen, a baseball hat or equivalent to shade your face, sweatshirt, sweatpants, wetsuit (optional), board shirt (this goes underneath the wetsuit to prevent chafing around the neck), Vaseline or BodyGlide (for under the arms, neck area) and goggles!
Each finisher will receive a beach towel when they come out of the water, compliments of Rush University Cancer Center.


The water temperature will likely be in the high 60s to low 70s. USA Triathlon recommends using a wetsuit on shorter distances (the 1/2, 1, 1.5 mile and 2 mile relay) if the temps are below 68 degrees, and on longer distances (5k) if the temps are below 71.6. Wetsuits will be available for rent on the beach from third-party vendors. Last year, this line was very long, so plan to arrive early to get the right size and have time to do the fun beach activities before your wave kicks off!

Bag Check

You can keep all of your belongings together and safe while you swim. Your assigned number to put on your bag will be the same as your body marking number. You can start dropping off your bag at 7:00a.m. and you must pick it up by 10:30a.m.

Changing Tents

We will have men's & women's changing tents available for swimmer use on the beach.


6:30 am: Registration Opens

7:30 am: Opening Remarks

7:45 am: Mandatory Safety Talk

7:55 am: Group Photo

8:05 am: River Stone Ceremony

8:20am: 3 Mile Swim Start

8:25 am: 2 Mile Relay Start

8:30 am: 1.5-mile swim start

8:40 am: 1 Mile Swim Start

8:45 am: 1/2 Mile Swim Start

10:15 am: Picnic Begins


If this is your first time participating or if you just need some tips to be a better fundraiser, click here. It will walk you through the participant center and teach you how to email donors, share on social media sites and download the fundraising app.

You may support the swimmer of your choice by making an online donation. Or you may send a check, payable to Swim Across America, to the address below:

Swim Across America
47 Polk Street
Suite 100-561
Chicago, IL 60605

Make sure to include a note with the name of the swimmer you are donating to.


Chicago Course Map 2015


Swim Across America makes swimmer safety the most important component of all our swimming events. A Safety Director is responsible for coordinating all activities within an event, and works closely with the local Fire, Police and EMT's to ensure swimmer safety. We will have a number of lifeguards, safety kayakers and safety boats outon the course with us to ensure swimmer safety at all times. All boats are able to communicate via both hand held and ship to shore radios. All swimmers are required to follow specific procedures to participate in teh event. These procedures are designed to protect swimmers from injury and will be enforced by the Safety Director.


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver found here.



Tom Beeri (2008) - Represented Team Israel at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China in the 100M and 200M breastroke. He also served as the Israeli Olympic swim team captain and set two Israeli national records at the Games.

Kendra Berner Yoch (2008) - Represented Team USA at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, Australia. Born with a malformed right hand, she swam in the S-10 division. Kendra earned silver medals in the 50m free, 100m free, 400m free, and 400m freestyle relay. She previously held the American S-10 record in every long course freestyle event and still holds the 50m free record. Kendra swam for Davidson College and is currently an education law attorney in Chicago.

Jilen Siroky Bouwer (1996) - Represented the United States at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia as a 14 year old. She competed in the B Final of the women's 200-meter breaststroke, and finished with the 15th overall time. She is the youngest US Olympic Swimmer since 1976. Jilen swam at the University of Notre Dame and now resides in Western Springs, IL with her husband and children.

Katherine Starr (1984, 1988) - Represented Great Britain at the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympic Games, specializing in the freestyle and butterfly events.



The Swim is located at Ohio Street Beach, 400 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611. Ohio St. Beach is near Navy Pier. It is just north of Grand Ave and just east of Lake Shore Drive. Click on the link for detailed directions to the Pier, which include public transportation and alternate parking lots. (Please be aware that while there is significant overpass construction on Lake Shore Drive between Grand and the beach, you can still proceed through the park to the beach and registration.)

Transportation and Parking

We suggest taking public transportation. The closest CTA Train Station is the Red Line stop at Grand and State. The CTA provides six bus lines with more than 200 buses that serve Navy Pier daily. These include the #29 (State Street), the #65 (Grand Avenue) which is equipped with bike racks, and the #66 (Chicago Avenue). Also, there is a Divvy bike station on the northwest corner of Grand and Lake Shore Drive.
If you must drive, discounted parking will be available in the Navy Pier Parking Lot from 6:30 am 12:00 noon. Parking coupons will be available at the Registration Tent at the beach and will discount parking to $15. Please be aware that the discount is good only until 12:00 noon. After 12:00 noon you will be charged the $28 regular rate.