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 or 3 mile option to support cancer research and leading-edge patient care at Rush University Cancer Center.
Proceeds from the swim will support early-stage research and clinical trials for a variety of cancer types at the Swim Across America Lab at Rush University Cancer Center.
Welcome to the Swim Across America - Chicago Open Water Swim! SAA - Chicago partnered with Rush University Cancer Center in 2012 and has since donated over $1.8 million to support cancer research and clinical trials there. Thank you for your support of cancer care in Chicago.
Each year we are proud to host over 280 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 annual swim on August 21 at Ohio Street Beach!
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 - Chicago funds benefit Rush University Cancer Center.
Hear directly from the incredible doctors your funds are supporting below.
All swimmers are required to raise at least $500 by event day. Swimmers under 18 are required to raise $300 by event day.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Lake Michigan water temperatures can vary. Wetsuits are not mandatory, but strongly recommended. Please read our full wetsuit policy and tips on our Policies Page.
Online Purchase: Orca is offering a 15% discount on all Orca wetsuits with code SAAPARTICIPANT15.
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.
We will have men's & women's changing tents available for swimmer use on the beach.
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 or 3 miles). All ages and skill levels are welcome! Click here to register!
Participants in SALM (Swim Across Lake Michigan) will swim relay-style 26.2 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.
More information to follow!
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-Chicago 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 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.
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 $1,000! 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
PO Box 223
Riverside, IL 60546
Make sure to include a note with the name of the swimmer you are donating to.
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.
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.
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
8:30 am: 1.5-mile swim start
8:40 am: 1 Mile Swim Start
8:45 am: 1/2 Mile Swim Start
10:15 am: Pre-packaged meal pickup!
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.)
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.
2021 Olympians attending to be announced soon. Olympian Guests who have attended and participated in past SAA-Chicago events include:
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.
2021 Date: TBA - June 2021
More information to come!
Please watch our '2020 SAA-Chicago Celebration Video' here!