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Welcome to the Swim Across America - Denver Open Water Swim.
Swimmers of all ages and skill levels are invited to take part in our 4th annual event hosted at Chatfield Reservoir. Swimmers can choose to register for 1/2 mile, 1 mile, or 2 miles. All Proceeds go to Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital Colorado. You also have the opportunity to create your own challenge with SAA My Way or by starting or joining a pool swim. Thanks for 'Making Waves to Fight Cancer' with Swim Across America!

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.

6:30 - 7:45 AM: Registration
8:15 AM: Rolling Start
Chatfield Reservoir
Littleton, CO
Swim Options
.5 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile
SAA My Way (Virtual)
18+: $500
Under 18: $250

Welcome to the Swim Across America - Denver Open Water Swim! Established in 2018, SAA - Denver has raised over $530,000 to support our beneficiary: Children's Hospital Colorado. Thank you for your support of cancer care in Denver.

Each year we are proud to host over 400 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 4th annual swim on August 29th at Chatfield Reservoir!***

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.

***Due to current local gathering restrictions, we will have a limit on the number of event participants in 2021. Register early to secure your spot!


SAA Denver funds benefit three research projects at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Hospital Colorado. The acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) research project, led by Drs. Amanda Winters, Taizo Nakano, and Craig Forester will bring new therapies into Phase 2 clinical trials for pediatric MDS and better define how to diagnose, classify and treat MDS patients. The tumor research project, led by Dr. Adam Green, will characterize the immune response to new brain tumors to better establish which types are amenable to cancer immunotherapy, and provide a new prognostic marker for these diseases. . The sepsis biomarker project, led by Dr. Leonora Slatnick, will lead to novel ways of diagnosing and managing infectious complications in immunosuppressed patients.

Hear directly from the incredible doctors your funds are supporting below.

2016 Atlanta Map
L to R: Taizo Nakano MD, Amanda Winters, MD, Craig Forester, MD, Adam Green, MD

Standardizing Care for Pediatric Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Dr. Winters' research is focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which is a devastating blood disorder that inevitably leads to a resistant form of AML in children if left untreated. Even with bone marrow transplantation (BMT), optimistic outcomes yield only a 50% chance of survival. Little progress has been made to improve outcomes in more than 20 years and North America has fallen behind other international efforts to study pediatric MDS. As a result, the disease remains poorly understood in children and there is no expert consensus on diagnosis, classification, or treatment. Dr. Winters and her colleagues in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, led by Dr. Taizo Nakano and Dr. Craig Forester, have 3 goals for standardizing the approach to children with MDS: (1) to understand the biology of MDS (that is, why the bone marrow doesn't work and why it tends to develop leukemia); (2) to be leaders in the United States in establishing diagnosis and treatment guidelines for pediatric MDS; and (3) to conduct a clinical trial of pre-transplant therapy for pediatric MDS to improve the current 50% survival statistics. The clinical trial will employ a standard-of-care drug for MDS, azacitidine, in combination with the drug venetoclax, which has shown very promising results in adult AML and MDS clinical trials and which is expected to allow more children to get to transplant with less advanced disease and with less chemotherapy-related side effects.

Brain Tumor Research Study

Dr. Greens’ pediatric brain tumor research study is using an understudied set of data in patients with pediatric brain tumors at Children’s Hospital Colorado over the last 20 years to study how these tumors interact with the immune system. Most patients have cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tested at diagnosis to determine if tumor cells have invaded into this fluid around the brain and spinal cord. Information about the makeup of white blood cells (WBCs) in this fluid is also obtained, but these data have previously gone overlooked. The study is looking at how the makeup of WBCs in the CSF of these patients correlates with their tumor type, presence of metastatic tumor, and long-term survival. The achievement of these aims will give us key knowledge of pediatric brain tumors that can be used to improve treatment in the future. First, understanding which types of tumors generate a robust immune response and which are more immunosuppressive, which will help determine how to use new cancer immunotherapy strategies optimally. Second, having another key factor in predicting patients’ likelihood of survival from their initial CSF results will help us better tailor treatment to be either less aggressive (to limit long-term side effects in lower-risk patients) or more aggressive (to increase survival likelihood in higher-risk patients) with their subsequent treatment.

Biomarker Development for Sepsis in Pediatric Oncology Patients

Dr. Slatnick’s research is focused on infectious complications in immunosuppressed pediatric oncology, and bone marrow transplant (BMT) patients. Due to intensive chemotherapy regimens, this patient population is at high risk for severe infection and sepsis. Over the past few decades, there has been improvement in outcomes for patients with infection, largely due to better supportive care practices and standardization of empiric broad-spectrum antibiotic administration with fever. Despite this, immunocompromised pediatric patients who do develop sepsis or septic shock suffer multiple negative sequelae including organ damage and even death at higher rates than the general pediatric population. A cornerstone of sepsis care is early diagnosis and intervention, however pediatric oncology patients frequently do not show typical signs and symptoms of impending sepsis or shock due to impaired immune responses. Moreover, established laboratory values, or biomarkers, used in the general population to identify patients at highest risk for sepsis have not proven useful in immunocompromised patients. The primary goals of Dr. Slatnick’s research are: (1) to better characterize predictive clinical factors and biomarkers for sepsis and infection in pediatric oncology and BMT patients; and (2) to develop novel biomarkers to distinguish which patients with fever or infection concern are at highest risk for critical illness. This work will contribute to better risk-stratification strategies to facilitate life-saving intervention for patients at highest risk and aid in identifying patients at low risk who may benefit from less aggressive intervention.


General Fundraising Requirement:

All swimmers are required to raise at least $500 by event day. Swimmers under 18 are required to raise $250 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 colleges, high schools, 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.

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 29th with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between May 30th and July 30th with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between July 31st and August 15th with a registration fee of $100

Online registration will close on August 15th.

Age Requirements:

Participants ages 12 and under who would like to sign up for the 1 mile or 2 mile 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. There's also the option to attend a Swim Across America qualifying swim that will be held in July and August. Please email Jessica to sign up or for more information.


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver found here. Please bring it with you to the event and provide at check in.

Swim Caps:

Every swimmer must wear the SAA colored cap given to them at the registration for their designated event. You may not switch caps for a different color, for safety purposes.

Wetsuit Policy, Rentals and Purchases:

Water temperatures can vary. Please read our full wetsuit policy and tips on our Policies Page.

Online Rental: is offering $15 off with code SAA15 on adult and youth wetsuit rentals. You can find more info here.

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

Face Masks:

For the safety of everyone at the event, face masks will be mandatory.

Angel Swimmers:

For those people who are nervous about swimming in the open water, we have "swim angels" who are willing 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 during your swim. If you would like to be an angel swimmer, or would like to have one assigned to you, please contact Jessica Reinhardt Vitcenda.


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-Denver 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.


Due to local gathering limits and Covid restrictions, event day volunteer slots are limited in 2021. Volunteer opportunities are also available to help with setup and logistics before event day. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jessica Reinhardt Vitcenda or Nicole Vanderpoel.


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 - Denver
PO Box 370076
Denver, CO 80237

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


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. Please bring it with you to the event and provide at check in.


Event Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

6:00 am: Volunteer Check In

6:30 am: Mandatory Water Safety Meeting for Water Volunteers

6:30 am: Registration Opens (Closes at 7:30 am)

7:25 am: Welcome Program

7:50 am: National Anthem

8:05 am: Mandatory Safety Speech

8:10 am: 2 Mile Swim Start

8:15 am: 1 Mile Swim Start

8:20 am: 0.5 Mile Swim Start


    ***Course closes at 10:00 am.



Chatfield Reservoir

SAA - Denver is held at Chatfield Reservoir on the South Platte River south of Littleton, Colorado. The reservoir is surrounded by Chatfield State Park, a recreation area with boating, horseback riding and camping.

Chatfield Main Reservoir Water Temp on event day in 2018 was 72 degrees.

Course Map:

2016 Atlanta Map


GPS: The entrance near C-470 and Wadsworth has an approximate address of 9700 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, 80128. The address for the south entrance is 11500 N. Roxborough Park Rd., Littleton 80125.

General: The main entrance to Chatfield State Park is located one mile south of C-470 on Wadsworth. Make a left into the park from the traffic light (there will be a brown sign for Chatfield State Park). Please do not enter at Deer Creek Canyon Road. That is the entrance to the Army Corps of Engineers.

From south of the Denver metro area: Santa Fe (Highway 85) to Titan Parkway (approximately 14.6 miles north of Castle Rock). West on Titan to Roxborough Park Road. Take a right on Roxborough Park Road which leads directly into Chatfield State Park.


Parking is available adjacent to Chatfield Resevoir. Please only park in designated parking spaces. We encourage all participants to carpool when possible.


Greenwood Athletic Club Swim to Fight Cancer - TBA

You may choose to participate in an Olympian swim clinic, organized workout or both. All ages are welcome.

Denver Open Water Swim Clinic to Fight Cancer - TBA

Join us for an open water swim clinic to raise money for cancer research. All ages are welcome, but participants must be open water friendly.


Accomplished open water and pool Swimmer Judy Nelson designed an amazing 6 week training program to swim a mile in open water for SAA-Denver leading up to our swim. Download and get ready to make waves!


The Swim Across America - Denver Junior Advisory Board is a volunteer group of select high school students chosen by their coaches to lead their school’s swim teams in participation, team-building and fundraising. To support their fundraising efforts and teams, or for interest in the Junior Board, email Nicole.


2021 Olympians and Special Guests TBA.

Olympians and special guests present at the 2019 SAA - Denver swim:

    Ashley Twichell
    George DiCarlo
    Haley Anderson
    Kara Lynn Joyce
    Lindsey Mintenko
    Missy Franklin
    Scott Usher
    Susan von der Lippe


Midway through kinde­rgarten, Teagan was struggling with weig­ht gain, sleeping th­rough dinner and felt tired all the ti­me without any answe­rs. Still, she continued to go to school and was her usual bubbly self. Her school nurse thought something was wrong when she saw Teagan's pale face and told her parents she should be seen by a doctor. After numerous vis­its to the Urgent Ca­re and no answers, she went to the emerg­ency room at her loc­al hospital in Cheye­nne, Wyoming. She was immediately refe­rred to Children’s Hospital Colorado whe­re she received the devastating diagnosis of Acute Lymphobla­stic Leukemia (ALL) and began her treatm­ent four days later. Her liver and spleen were so enlarged that she waddled arou­nd and she could hardly get in and out of bed without help. After six weeks of treatment and physical therapy, Teag­an was in remission and then back to sch­ool within three mon­ths of her diagnosis. Teagan finished her treatment in April 2017, and is now ca­ncer-free. Teagan has always kept a posi­tive attitude even through two and half years of chemother­apy, nausea, and fat­igue. Her most memor­able experience at Children’s Colorado was playing in the ar­ts and crafts area during her chemo trea­tments. Today Teagan is a cheerful, outg­oing, healthy 5th grader, proud member of her local swim team (b­ackstroke is her fav­orite stroke!), participates in 4-H archery, and loves to play with her family's new puppy. She sees her physician, Dr. Amanda Winters, regul­arly for clinic visi­ts. Teagan’s Mom, Er­in, shared “Dr. Wint­ers was absolutely amazing and was with us the minute we ste­pped into the emerge­ncy room at Children­’s Colorado and made sure we knew what was happening every step of the way.” Teagan is grateful to be alive and wants to share her story with other cancer pat­ients so she can rai­se awareness and help other kids and let them know they are not alone.


In the middle of her junior year of high school, Lauren was struggling with intense stomach pains causing her to stop eating and resulting in almost 20 pounds of weight loss while she was doing two-a-day workouts with her high school and club swim teams. After numerous visits to a local Denver emergency room, she received the devastating diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The pain she was feeling was a tumor in her small intestine, causing her intestine to slide into an adjacent part of her intestine (called telescoping/intussusception). Lauren’s parents brought her to Children’s Colorado where she immediately started her treatment under the guidance of Dr. Kelly Maloney. “When my family and I arrived at Children’s Colorado, I immediately felt comfortable which is important when going through such a tough time. Dr. Kelly Maloney was very supportive of my love of swimming and allowed me to race one last time before chemotherapy started. She was great in treating me, making my family feel the best they could during my care and followed my health closely post-treatment.” After 12 weeks of grueling chemotherapy treatment, including the loss of her beautiful long hair (that she dyed bright blue!), horrible migraines, and medications that caused symptoms of shaky hands and blurred vision, Lauren was in remission. Her most memorable experience at Children’s Colorado was when her grandma made a surprise visit to the hospital for her 17th birthday and took her to get gelato every day she was there. Lauren finished her treatment in April 2013 and is now cancer free. Exactly one year and one day after her diagnosis, she was swimming faster than she ever had and accomplished her goal of making the sectional qualifying time for the 1-mile freestyle swim!

Today Lauren is an ambitious, passionate, and intelligent young lady who started her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University in August 2018. She aspires to be a marine animal veterinarian working with rescue, rehabilitation and release. Lauren swims because it has been the one constant in her life. She swam when she wasn’t sick, when she was sick and after she was sick. Swimming has always made her calm - very much like meditation. Lauren is grateful to be alive and hopes to inspire others through her story.


What started as knee pain turned into a nightmare for Markus and his family. After an X-ray revealed a mass in his leg, Markus was diagnosed with osteosarcoma a rare form of bone cancer. His family came to Children’s Colorado for a second opinion and immediately felt reassured that they would get the best care. To treat the cancer, doctors had to remove Markus’ leg at the knee. Markus opted to undergo a Van Nes Rotationplasty, a groundbreaking procedure that replaces the knee with the ankle joint from the amputated limb, which allows patients to retain more mobility

Markus’ surgery took place in July 2017. Although painful, the procedure was a success. Markus’ recovery was one of the most difficult parts of his journey, but he also remembers this time fondly. He was thrilled to wiggle his toes for the first time, and he passed the time by finding new ways to make his nurses laugh. After four days in the hospital, he was discharged the day of his 13th birthday. Once fearful, Markus is now stronger than ever. Markus was fitted for his prosthetic leg, and he’s looking forward to being able to run, jump and even play flag football again.

Markus continues to come Children’s Colorado for regular check-ups. During his many appointments, Markus loves meeting other cancer patients. He even formed an unofficial support group of fellow osteosarcoma patients, fondly nicknamed the “Osteo Club” by his nurses.

Today, Markus’ caregivers often ask him to speak to newly-diagnosed patients who are feeling helpless and afraid. Markus hopes to give other kids the same kind courage he found at Children’s Colorado.


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


If you have any questions about SAA - Denver, please contact Nicole Vanderpoel or Jessica Reinhardt Vitcenda.