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1985-Jeff Keith finish in LA.jpegSwim Across America is the sequel to the triumph of Jeff Keith’s Run Across America. Jeff Keith had lost his right leg to cancer when he was a teenager. In the spring of 1984, Jeff and his childhood friends Matt Vossler and Hugh Curran were college graduates. The three of them put their careers on hold to take on a near impossible feat of running across the United States. The journey started on Jun 4, 1984 in Boston and finished eight months later in Los Angeles with a call from President Ronald Reagan wishing them congratulations. The run raised one million dollars for the American Cancer Society. Here is a video story of the run.


After the run, Matt was stirred to do something more. He shared in the New York Times, “I was thinking of some way to keep the idea alive something physically challenging to raise money and help people out.”

On August 1, 1987, approximately a dozen swimmers and their families boarded two boats at Port Jefferson, NY for what should have been a 17-mile relay swim across Long Island Sound. Why do we use the word “should”? Because one of the boats accidentally sank. The swim finished and the boat is still at the bottom of the sound.


''We raised about $10,000 that year, and it was probably mostly due to sympathy. When the boat sank, we almost abandoned the whole thing.'' - Matt Vossler



Swim Across the Sound continued to grow every year, culminating in the 1991 swim that raised $250,000 and saw participation from Olympians Craig Beardsley, Steve Lundquist, Rowdy Gaines and others. The 1990 swim was featured in the New York Times.

1991 VIDEO


Swim Across America is celebrating 35 years of impact in 2022. SAA has raised $100 million since its inception in 1987 to support cancer research and clinical trials across the U.S. Please contact Jeni Howard at for media inquiries.