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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 or 2 mile option to support cancer research and leading-edge patient care at Rush.

6:30 am: Registration Opens
7:50 am: Mandatory Safety Talk
8:20 am: Rolling Start
Ohio Street Beach
400 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
Swim Options
1/2-mile, 1-mile, 2-mile
SAA My Way (Virtual)
18+: $500
Under 18: $300

Welcome to the Swim Across America - Chicago Open Water Swim! SAA - Chicago partnered with Rush in 2012 and has since donated over $2 million to support cancer research and clinical trials there. Read here to learn more about the projects and investigators that your fundraising supports.

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 3 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."


General Fundraising Requirement:

All swimmers are required to raise at least $500 by event day. Swimmers under 18 are required to raise $300 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 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.

Angel Swimmers

For those who are hesitant about swimming in open water, we are happy to provide an “angel swimmer” to swim the course alongside you. Angel swimmers are experienced open water swimmers who encourage you, keep an eye on you and support you during your swim. If you think you may benefit from having an angel swimmer, please respond yes to the question presented in online registration. You may also reach out to Alyse Mauro Mason to answer any questions.

Distance Options:

  • 0.5 Mile
  • 1.0 Mile
  • 2.0 Mile

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 May 6 with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between May 6 and July 14 with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between July 15 and event day with a registration fee of $100

Online registration will close on Wednesday, August 7. Event day registration may still be available if space permits.


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver found here.

2024 Swimmer Packet

The 2024 Swimmer Packet will be distributed via email approximately five days before our event. It contains important information about the schedule, what to expect and what to bring. For reference, find the 2023 packet here.

What to Bring

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.

Wetsuit Policy, Rentals and Purchases:

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.

Wetsuits: Orca is an SAA wetsuit partner offering a 20% discount on all Orca purchases with code SAA20.

Online Rental: KIT LENDER is offering a 10% discount on any Wetsuit or Kit rental. Round-trip shipping costs are included. Wetsuits start at just $42.60 for the event. Enter coupon code SAACHI0812 at checkout. Orders must be placed by 8/9 to ensure delivery on time for the event.

Bag Check

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 7:00 a.m. and you must pick it up by 10:30 a.m.

Changing Tents

We will have men's & women's changing tents available for swimmer use on the beach.

Chicago Open Water Swim

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 or 2 miles). All ages and skill levels are welcome!

Swim Across Lake Michigan

Date: TBA
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.


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. Learn more about the projects and investigators your fundraising supports on our blog and in the 2023 SAA-Chicago impact report.

RESEARCH MILESTONE! The NIH honored Rush physician scientist Faraz Bishehsari, MD, PhD, with the Director’s Transformative Research Award, which includes funding for his innovative pancreatic cancer research. The award, one of the NIH’s most prestigious and exclusive, is given to “exceptionally creative” scientists proposing high-risk, high-impact research. Dr. Bishehsari's research was also supported by our Swim Across America - Chicago charity swim.


Date: Monday, June 17, 2024
Location: Cog Hill Golf & Country Club

Participation: Spots are limited! Please email Alyse (SAA-Chicago, Co-Event Director) to secure your spot today!

Sponsorships: Please email Alyse (SAA-Chicago, Co-Event Director) for details and pricing information.

Find more information and register here.


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-Chicago event. 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.

Questions about volunteering? Check out our SAA Volunteer Page or contact our Volunteer Coordinator - Katie

Angel Swimmers

Angel Swimmers are experienced open water swimmers who are willing to accompany a nervous swimmer throughout the course. Angel swimmers must be able to swim all distances and help out if the swimmer needs. To register as an angel swimmer, choose “volunteer” and then select Angel Swimmer. The local planning team will have final approval of angel swimmers.

Questions about volunteering? Check out our SAA Volunteer Page or contact Alyse Mauro Mason.


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.

NEW! Watch these instructional videos to learn how to register, update your participant center, connect to Facebook and more!

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
8508 Park Rd. #389
c/o SAA-Chicago
Charlotte, NC 28210

In the memo line please request that your donor write, "Swimmer Name - Chicago."


SAA Safety & Policies:

Participant safety is 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.

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


Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

6:30 am: Registration Opens

7:30 am: Opening Remarks

7:45 am: Awards Presentation

7:50 am: Mandatory Safety Talk

7:55 am: Group Photo & National Anthem

8:05 am: River Stone Ceremony

8:20am: 2 Mile Swim Start

8:35 am: 1 Mile Swim Start

8:40 am: 1/2 Mile Swim Start

10:15 am: All Swimmers Out of the Water

10:15 am: Boxed Lunches Provided Post-Swim

10:45 am: Breakdown



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 this link for information about Navy Pier, including public transportation and alternate parking lots.

Transportation and Parking

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.

Course Map


Bartlett Barracudas Swims Against Cancer

Bartlett, IL
Date: July 3, 2024
Time: 7:30 AM

Start A Pool Swim

Interested in raising money for SAA - Chicago, 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 Alyse Mauro Mason to learn more!



Here are some recent stories that display the impact members of the Swim Across America family have had in the Chicago community.


If you have any questions about SAA - Chicago, please contact Katie Marchetti or Alyse Mauro Mason.

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