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Join the Richmond Open Water Swim and Fight Cancer with Swim Across America. Swimmers of all ages and levels are invited to take part in our inaugural Richmond benefit swim in the James River. Your participation will help us "Make Waves to Fight Cancer" and raise money for cancer research, prevention and treatment.


Formerly known as the "To the Bridge & Back" race in the SwimRVA Open Water Race Series, we are excited to partner with Swim Across America to offer this benefit swim as a way to "Make Waves to Fight Cancer" in 2018!

This event is not a competition, but an enjoyable fundraising event for everyone! You can sign up as a swimmer, kayaker, or event volunteer. As a swimmer, you will be expected to raise a minimum amount of money based on your age and the event in which you choose to participate. There are no minimum fundraising amounts for kayakers, paddle boarders or event volunteers, however, we do encourage you to do so if at all possible.


General Fundraising Requirement: $400 for ages 18 & over, $200 for under 18

Choose to swim either the 1/2-Mile, 1-Mile or 2.4-Mile distance and you pledge to raise a minimum based on your age. For this option, you should register as a "Swimmer" during the registration process. If you do not achieve the minimum by event day, you will be asked to close the money gap at the event with a credit card or check. All swimmers receive an event shirt, towel and silicone swim cap for participating.

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 4 distances. WaveMakers get an exclusive WM gift and access to the WM tent on event day where they will have access to other perks and swag.

5-Mile Swimmer: $1,000 minimum:

5-Milers are expected to go above and beyond by pledging to raise at least $1,000, regardless of age. You are making a commitment to swim the most difficult distance, ask your donors to be as committed as you are! At this level you automatically become a WaveMaker and get the extra perks noted above. If you do not achieve the $1,000 minimum by the swim date, you will be asked to close the money gap at the event with a credit card or check. If you can't, for whatever reason, you will be reassigned to swim your choice of either the 1-Mile or 2.4-Mile and you will not have WaveMaker status.

Participants in the 5 mile swim are required to have a personal kayaker along side them for the duration of the swim. Your kayaker should register online as a 5-Miler Escort Paddler and note the name of the swimmer for whom they are accompanying in the registration process. Volunteers are encouraged to fundraise as well.

5-Miler Escort Paddler:

Escort Paddlers are required to provide their own kayak, paddle, and PFD. If you do not have access to this equipment you can rent them through Kayak Richmond. Your kayak, paddle and PFD will be brought to the site and be waiting for you upon your arrival. Contact Kayak Richmond at and tell them you would like to rent equipment for the October 6th Swim Across America-Richmond event.

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 their individual fundraising minimums based on their age, distance or WaveMaker status as noted in the prior sections.

Distance Options:

  • 0.5-Mile
  • 1.0-Mile
  • 2.4-Mile
  • 5.0-Mile

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 July 28th with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between July 29th and September 1st with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between September 2nd 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.

Qualification Documentation for 2.4-Mile and 5-Mile Swimmers:

Each participant must submit ONE of the following items listed here to qualify for entry into the 5.0 or the 2.4 mile event.


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver found here.

Wetsuit Rentals and Purchases:

Online Rental: is offering $15 off with code SAA15 on adult and youth wetsuit rentals. You can find more info here.

Online Purchase: Orca is offering a 10% discount on all Orca wetsuits with code SAA10.


Friday, October 5th

5:00-7:00pm: Packet Pick-Up, Practice Swim, Kayak Drop-off

Saturday, October 6th

Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

8:00am: Gates Open

8:15am: Packet Pick-Up Opens (all events)

9:00am: Mandatory 5-miler escort and safety kayaker briefing

9:15am: Packet Pick-Up Closes (all events)

9:20am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for 5-mile swimmers

9:30am: "Why I Swim" Ceremony

10:00am: 5-miler swim starts

10:15am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing 2.4-milers

10:30am: 2.4-mile swim starts

10:35am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for all 1-mile and 1/2-mile safety kayakers

10:45am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for all 1-mile and 1/2-mile swimmers

11:00am: 1-mile & 1/2-mile swims start

2:30pm: Course Cut-Off


If this is your first time participating in Swim Across America 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 - Richmond
4161 Traylor Drive
Richmond, VA 23235

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


Qualification Documentation for 2.4-Mile and 5-Mile Swimmers:

Each participant must submit ONE of the following items listed here to qualify for entry into the 5.0 or the 2.4 mile event.

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 out on 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 the 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.


Links/images here

Course Description:

The 5.0-miler will start in waves of 10 swimmers seeded by best 1500m time in the past 12 months.

The 2.4-miler will start in waves of 10 swimmers seeded by best 1500m time in the past 12 months.

Swimmers will line up for the start at the end of the boat ramp.

Waves will start in 60-second increments and swimmers will directly across the river to the first 7-ft orange triangle turn buoy, making a left hand turn keeping the buoy on their left shoulder.

The first half of the racewill be up-river towards the Route 288 WWII Veterans Memorial Bridge with all buoys kept on the left should thus swimming between the North Shore line and the buoys.

5-Mile swimmers will round the 5-ft oval fluorescent green bouy, just before the bridge at the 2.5-Mile mark.

2.4-Mile swimmers will round the 2-ft blue circle bouy at the 1.2-Mile mark/

All swimmers will round the final orange triangle buoy parallel to the boat ramp, keeping the buoy on their right shoulder, and swim directly to the boat ramp to finish.

The finish timing mat will be at the top of the boat ramp through the finishing chute.


Swim Location:

Upper James River
American Legion Post 354
4800 Welby Turn
Midlothian, VA 23113
Directions coming soon!

Places to Stay:

The following hotel is centrally-located for swimmers attending this event:

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Richmond-Midlothian
1021 Koger Center Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23235
(203) 358-8400


What will the water temperature be?

Although water temperature in the James can vary greatly depending on the prevailing weather pattern in the weeks leading up to the race, we expect the water temperature to be in the low 70's.

What will the current be like?

This is harder to predict, but we chose the date based on historically favorable water conditions that time of year. The current has been minimal the last three years and the course makes the upriver leg easier by being closer to the river bank.

Can I change my 1500m seed time?

Yes, you can change your seed time until September 30th by emailing us.


Celebrate an inspirational day with a catered brunch, massages and great music!


Start A Pool Swim

Interested in raising money for SAA - Richmond, but not sure you're ready for the open water? Why not start a pool swim? Gather together your family, friends or team for a day at the pool. Email us to learn more!