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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 2021: SAA - Atlanta is now located at beautiful Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

Thank you for making our 2021 swim a success! You can still register as a virtual SAA My Way participant and fundraise to support local cancer research this year.

7:00-8:30: Mandatory Check-in
8:00-8:30: Program Begins
8:30: Rolling start
Lake Lanier Olympic Park
3105 Clarks Bridge Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
Swim Options
.5 mile, 1 mile, 5K
SAA My Way (Virtual)
18+: $400
Under 18: $200

Welcome to the Swim Across America - Atlanta Open Water Swim! Established in 2013, SAA - Atlanta has donated over $2.25 million to our beneficiary: Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Thank you for your support of cancer care in Atlanta.

Each year we are proud to host over 1,000 swimmers and volunteers, spectators and supporters, as well as Olympians near and far at our charity swim. We are so excited to have you join us for our 9th annual swim on October 2nd at Lake Lanier Olympic Park!

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."

Swim Across America is dedicated to providing a safe return to events in 2021.



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. Hear directly from the doctors you are supporting about why your funding is critical to their research below.

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.

Funds raised from the 2020 virtual Coast to Coast challenge and the 2021 event support several young investigators and their cancer research. More details of the specific research projects can be found here.

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


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 Status: $1,000 minimum:

WaveMakers go above and beyond the call of duty by raising at least $1,000 regardless of your age. Anyone can achieve WaveMaker status - swimmers, volunteers or SAA My Way participants. WaveMakers get special recognition and an exclusive WM gift on event day. You can learn more about WaveMaker Status here.

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. 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 July 2 with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between July 3 and September 3 with a registration fee of $75
  • Register after September 4 with a registration fee of $100

Online registration will close Wednesday, September 29th, 2021, 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!


With a lot of recent rain and slightly cooler temperatures this time of year, we anticipate that the water temperature on event day might be slightly cooler than previous years. The water temperature reading today for Lake Lanier is 74 degrees. We anticipate the water temperature on event day will be in the mid to upper 70s, meaning wetsuits will be allowed for the swim. You can view our wetsuit policy here. We will be continuing to update water temperature on our website and if you have any questions, you can contact us here.

If you would like to have a wetsuit handy for event day, below are some rental and purchase options we recommend:

Online Rentals:

    Online Purchase: Orca is offering a 15% discount on all Orca wetsuits with code SAAPARTICIPANT15.

Local Purchase options:

  • Podium Multisport
    1167 Zonolite Pl NE
    Atlanta, GA 30306
  • All 3 Sports
    8601 Dunwoody Place
    Suite 420
    Atlanta, GA 30350

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 on September 19th and 26th that you may attend. Please email Nancy Overheim to sign up or for more information.


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

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.


What is SAA MY WAY?

SAA My Way is our virtual offering where you decide your activity and timeline. Register with a $50 self-donation and we’ll send you an SAA Swag Bag to show off your spirit. All donations raised for your My Way will support our SAA-Atlanta event. If you meet the fundraising minimum and later choose to join us at the swim, we can change your registration status. Click here to learn about all the ways you can have fun your way!

To sign up as an SAA My Way participant for our event, click the register button above and select 'SAA My Way' as your participation type.


Volunteers are the backbone of the Swim Across America Family ensuring our event run smoothly from beginning to end. Even if you aren’t a swimmer, you can still help us in the fight against cancer. Don’t forget, volunteers can fundraise too if they want! Ready to volunteer with us? Click on the Register button and select the Volunteer participation type.

Land Volunteers

Land Volunteers staff all aspects of our event on land. You can anticipate helping with set up, swimmer check-in, finish line support, hospitality and post-swim events/clean up.

Water Volunteers

Water volunteers consist of kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders and power boaters that provide crucial logistical and safety support to our event officials and for our swimmers. They will monitor the swim lane, keep an active eye on all our swimmers and communicate any swimmer issues to our event officials.

Questions about volunteering? Check out our SAA Volunteer Page or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Alison Millsaps.


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 can find more helpful resources on our fundraising resources page.

Be a WaveMaker by taking your fundraising to the next level and raising $1000! Anyone can achieve WaveMaker status - swimmers, volunteers or SAA My Way participants. WaveMakers get special recognition and an exclusive WM gift on event day. You can learn more about WaveMaker Status here.

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 2021 fundraising toolkit.


2021 Return to Events Updates:

For three decades, Swim Across America has been committed to providing a safe environment for our charity activities. COVID-19 brings a new dimension as we create our safety protocols. Each of our charity swims will abide by local, state and national guidelines. COVID-19 will likely have some impact on our ability to offer the day of experience you’ve come to expect.

All participants and volunteers will be asked to follow safety procedures and policies. Participants are responsible for adequately preparing for their registered charity event. We ask that all participants review the information packet provided in advance and attend the day-of safety briefing if you are participating in our live experience.

We appreciate your understanding as we commit to creating the best possible environment for our participants, volunteers and community. Our Return to Events Updates can be found here. Please check this page for any changes.

SAA Safety & Policies:

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.

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


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver found here.


Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

7:00 - 8:30 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.)

7:30-8:00 am - Olympian autograph session 1

8:00-8:30 am - Welcome Program, Awards, and Special Ceremony

8:40 am - 5k safety talk

8:45 am - 5k start

9:10 am - 1M safety talk

9:15 am - 1M start

9:25 am - 1/2M safety talk

9:30 am - 1/2M start

11:00-11:30 am - Olympian autograph session two


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

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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: $134/night
(770) 503-0300
Be sure to use this link to reserve your room under the Swim Across America group rate.

Fairfield Inn and Suites Gainesville
1755 Browns Bridge Road
Gainesville, GA 30501
Rates: $139/night
(678) 971-4670
Be sure to use this link to reserve your room under the Swim Across America group rate.

Holiday Inn Express and Suites Lake Lanier
1189 Dawsonville Hwy NW
Gainesville, GA
(770) 533-5140


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 Mary Alice State Park in advance of the October 2 open water swim event:


Mary Alice State Park, 1820 Mary Alice Park Rd.
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Price: $40.00
Register HERE.


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.

2021 Junior Advisory Board:

Maggie Anders
Mary Claire Anderson
Patrick Carr
Simon Casey
Zachary Goldstein
Madelyn Keib
Reagan Lapes
Maggie Robinson
Isabella Sanchez
Aiden Saunders
Elise Smith-Davids
Charlotte Thompson
Andrew Wyatt
Olivia Yahne
Prielle Zaft


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.

Please make your nominations for the 2021 Grace Bunke Award here.


Please watch our '2020 SAA-Atlanta Celebration Video' here!

2019 SAA - Atlanta:


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



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