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Welcome to the Swim Across America - Atlanta Open Water Swim. Swimmers of all ages and skill levels are invited to take part in our annual charity swim. New Venue for 2020: SAA - Atlanta is now located at beautiful Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

  • SAA—Atlanta funds benefit the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta . The leukemia research project, led by Dr. Douglas Graham and his clinical research team, supports children as well as adults by hosting Phase 1 leukemia clinical trials at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.


Even in these uncertain times, we can continue making waves to fight cancer. As we navigate COVID-19, we've created a special webpage for event updates, helpful information and ways you can continue to support the mission of Swim Across America.

Welcome to the Swim Across America - Atlanta Open Water Swim. Swimmers of all ages are invited to take part in our 8th annual event at our beautiful new venue for 2020: Lake Lanier Olympic Park. Each year, we are proud to support over 1,000 swimmers and volunteers, spectators and supporters, as well as Olympians near and far.

Established in 2013, the SAA - Atlanta swim has donated more than $2.25 million to the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. From 2013 to 2016, SAA—Atlanta fundraising efforts supported Dr. Tobey MacDonald and his team’s research of pediatric brain cancer at the Swim Across America Lab, located at the Aflac Cancer Center Egleston Campus. Dr. MacDonald’s research led to identification of a novel driver of medulloblastoma tumor growth and metastasis.

Funds raised from the 2016-2019 swims supported leukemia research and clinical trials under the direction of Dr. Douglas Graham and his team of researchers at the Aflac Cancer Center and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Thanks to the strong partnerships between Swim Across America, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, and the Graham/DeRyckere laboratory, clinical trials are underway to help pediatric and adult patients with AML.

Whether you are a veteran swimmer or you're looking to do your first open water swim, we welcome you to help us "Make Waves to Fight Cancer."

If you have any questions about SAA - Atlanta, please contact Nicole Schwartz or Alison Millsaps.


General Fundraising Requirements:

All swimmers are required to raise at least $400 by event day. Swimmers under 18 are required to raise $200 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 four distances. WaveMakers get exclusive WM gifts, special perks, and access to the WaveMaker photo booth on event day.

Swim as an Individual, or on a Team:

A person may elect to swim alone, or as part of a team. Many work colleagues, high schools, and college alumni will form teams, or teams may be formed in honor or memory of a loved one. Companies looking to sponsor teams can do so for a minimum of $10,000. Read here for team sponsor benefits and more information.

Team Sponsor Benefits:

Teams who raise or are sponsored at $10K or more by August 17th have access to the VIP Team Zone including a table and tent for a team meet up and hospitality area. The team is also eligible for team t-shirts. Please email Nicole Schwartz for more information. The Team Zone also includes snacks and refreshments.

Distance Options:

  • 0.5 Mile
  • 1.0 Mile
  • 5K

Registration Self-Donation:

Swimmers will be asked to kickstart your fundraising and let your supporters know you are personally committed to the mission of SAA. The registration self-donation is a 100% tax deductible donation that will be will be credited towards each swimmer's fundraising minimum. The minimum self-donation amount will change as follows:

  • Register before March 1st with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between March 2nd and July 1st with a registration fee of $75
  • Register after July 1st with a registration fee of $100

**For the remainder of the 2020 event season minimum self-donations will remain at $50 until event day.

Online registration will close Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020, at 12 midnight EST or as soon as the event is full. Claim your spot as soon as possible - we typically sell out every year!

Age Requirements:

Participants ages 12 and under who would like to sign up for the 1 mile or 5K swims are required to obtain a letter from their personal accredited coach (USA Swimming, ASCA, etc) verifying the swimmer is capable of swimming the chosen distance in open water. Submit the form here. If you would like some extra practice and a chance to get your feet wet, we have two open water swim clinics held in August and September that you may attend. Please email Nancy Overheim to sign up or for more information.


Swim Across America makes participant safety the most important component of all our events. All swimmers will be asked to follow specific safety procedures and policies to participate, as well as comply with SAA safety personnel, including local and government entities, Lifeguards, and water safety volunteers. Participants are responsible for adequately preparing for their registered event. We ask that all participants review the information packet provided in advance of event day, as well as attend the day-of safety briefing for important safety information.


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver found here. Please read, sign and bring it with you to the event.


If you have questions about our policies regarding inclement weather, swim equipment or wetsuits, please consult our Policies page.

Swim Caps:

Every swimmer must wear the official SAA colored cap given to them at registration for their designated event. The caps are color coded based on the swim distance. You may not switch caps for a different color, for safety purposes.

Angel Swimmers:

For those people who are hesitant about swimming in the open water, we have "swim angels" who volunteer to swim alongside you for encouragement. These people are experienced open water swimmers who are more than happy to encourage you, keep an eye on you and support you during your swim. If you think you might benefit from having an angel swimmer assigned to you please make note of that in your registration. If you would like to volunteer to be an angel swimmer, please contact Malena Hankins.


Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

7:00 - 8:45 am: Swimmer Registration/Land Volunteer Check In (Note: Land volunteer assignments may require an earlier check in time. you will be notified by Alison Millsaps.)

7:30am-8:00 am: Olympian Autograph Session 1

8:00 am: Welcome Program

8:20 am: 5K Swimmer Safety Talk / Rookie Welcome / Why I Swim

8:30 am: 5K Swim Begins

9:20 am: 1 Mile Swimmer Safety Talk / Rookie Welcome / Why I Swim

9:30 am: 1 Mile Swim Begins

9:35 am: 1/2 Mile Swimmer Safety Talk

9:45 am: 1/2 Mile Swim Begins

11:00-11:30am: Olympian Autograph Session 2

11:30am : Event Concludes


SAA - Atlanta is held at Lake Lanier Olympic Park. The park's natural beauty provides a unique opportunity for the Olympic Park to become a critical part of the communities’ active lifestyle providing a unique aspect to the quality of life in our region.

Course Map

Coming Soon!

Site Map

New Venue for 2020! SAA - Atlanta will now be held at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, the site of canoe/kayak/rowing events at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.


Swim Location:
Lake Lanier Olympic Park
3105 Clarks Bridge Road
Gainesville, GA 30506

From Atlanta:
Take 85 North to 985 North
Take exit 24 toward US-129 N/GA-369 W/Gainesville/Cleveland
Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto GA-369 W/US-129 N (signs for Jesse Jewell Pwky/New Holland
Turn right onto White Sulphur Rd
Slight left onto Pine Valley Rd
Turn right onto Clarks Bridge Road
Lake Lanier Olympic Park on your right

Places to Stay:

Hampton Inn Gainesville
450 Jesse Jewell Parkway
Gainesville, GA
Rates: $149/night through link
(770) 503-0300

TownePlace Suites Gainseville
1745 Browns Bridge Road
Gainesville, GA
Rates: $139/night through link
(678) 971-4102

Holiday Inn Express and Suites Lake Lanier
1189 Dawsonville Hwy NW
Gainesville, GA
Rates: $105/night available until 8/25 through link
(770) 533-5140


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 - Atlanta
C/O Nancy Peek
PO Box 1078
Tucker, GA 30085

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

SAA - Atlanta has put together a fundraising toolkit to provide you with some more resources and tips to make fundraising a breeze. Click here to view our 2020 fundraising toolkit.



The open water swim clinics are general fundraisers for Swim Across America - Atlanta and a great way to get back in the water in preparation for the summer swim season offering drills, techniques, and stroke correction from Atlanta's top swim coaches. The Clinics are open to all ages and skill level. Proceeds support pediatric cancer research at the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA).

SAA - Atlanta is offering the following open water swim clinics at Lake Lanier in advance of the Sept. 26 open water swim event:



The Swim Across America Junior Advisory Board is a volunteer group of select middle and high school students who were selected by the SAA Core Committee through an application process to lead their school or club swim team in participation, team-building and fundraising. For more information on the Junior Advisory Board, email the advisor Jessica Cooper.

2020 Junior Advisory Board Members:

Junior Advisory Board President: Emma Schwartz
Junior Advisory Board Secretary: Grace Drawdy

Maggie Anders
Mary Claire Anderson
Patrick Carr
Grace Drawdy
Grace Kelly
Reagan Lapes
Camille Messonnier
Ariana Ramsey
Aidan Saunders
Emma Schwartz
Saavan Shah
Andrew Wyatt
Olivia Yahne
Prielle Zafft


This is an award to honor Grace Bunke’s positive attitude, fearless determination, and infinite spirit. Swim Across America Atlanta will present the award annually at the open water swim event as a way of keeping Grace in our hearts as well as a reminder for Why We Swim. The purpose of the award is to encourage everyone to take after Grace and to remember that “hope has no finish line.” Grace was loved and admired for her go-getter attitude and display of grit in the face of hardship. Grace represents the passion and commitment that Swim Across America participants and its supporters embrace in Atlanta and across the country to swim, to volunteer and to fundraise to the fullest potential and to "Make Waves to Fight Cancer." The award honors Grace while simultaneously promoting perseverance and fearless determination and recognizing an individual who embraces these same qualities of character.

Read more about the award here. Nominations for the 2020 Grace Bunke Award will open on Monday, August 3rd.



SAA Atlanta funds benefit the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Want to know more about our beneficiary and where the funds go? Click here to learn more.

You can also learn more about the specific research projects being funded with our 2020 grant here.




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