Welcome to the Swim Across America - Denver Open Water Swim.
Swimmers of all ages are invited to take part in this annual charity event at scenic Chatfield Reservoir in Littleton on August 17. Proceeds support cancer research projects at Children's Hospital Colorado.
NEW: Not a swimmer? You can participate virtually this year with an activity of your choice!
Learn about SAA My Way
Collectively, throughout the 2024 season, we have raised blank through our local pool swims and our open water swim.
Registrations: 7 Goal: 200000
Welcome to the Swim Across America - Denver Open Water Swim! Established in 2018, SAA-Denver has raised over $1 Million for our beneficiary Children's Hospital Colorado. Thank you for making an impact in the fight against pediatric cancer in Colorado.
Each year, we are proud to host over 300 Swimmers, 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 7th annual swim on August 17th at Chatfield Reservoir!
Whether you are a veteran swimmer, you're looking to do your first open water swim, or if you want to participate virtually to help the cause, we welcome you to help us "Make Waves to Fight Cancer." Together we are making a real difference!
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 ($250 if under 18 or in college).
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 on August 14. Day of registration will be available and will be $500 - the full fundraising minimum for SAA-Denver.
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.
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.
Water temperatures can vary. Please read our full wetsuit policy and tips on our Policies Page.
Online Wetsuit Purchase: Orca is an SAA wetsuit partner offering a 20% discount on all Orca purchases with code SAA20.
Online Wetsuit Rental: Kit Lender is offering a 10% discount off any Wetsuit or Kit rental. Wetsuit rentals start at just $42/event. Orders placed at least 7 days in advance include free roundtrip shipping. Orders can typically be placed up to 2 days before the event. Get started HERE.
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.
The 2024 Swimmer Packet will be distributed the week of the event via email. The 2023 Swimmer and Volunteer packet can be found here for reference.
SAA Denver funds benefit four 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 AML 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. New this year, the CAR-T Cell project, led by Dr. Lindsey Murphy and collaborating with Dr. Winters and members of the BMT-Cellular Therapeutics team, aims to use novel laboratory methods for detecting CAR T cells in patients who are receiving CAR T cell therapies, in order to understand how patients respond to these therapies and improve cure rates.
L to R: Taizo Nakano MD, Amanda Winters, MD, Craig Forester, MD, Adam Green, MD
Colorado Community Makes Waves to Benefit Children’s Hospital Colorado
"Picture a sunny and warm mid-August morning in Colorado. Retired Olympians such as Missy Franklin, Susan von der Lippe, and Susan Williams are smiling with water enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. They enter the water of Chatfield Reservoir in Littleton to “Make Waves to Fight Cancer” with the Swim Across America-Denver charity swim. There’s a sense of community as supporters and family cheer for them. Not because they’ll be racing for first place, rather because they’re all there to raise money that will provide grants for pediatric cancer at Children’s Hospital Colorado." Learn more about SAA-Denver, the projects we're funding and the impact you are making when you participate, volunteer and donate here.
Standardizing Care for Pediatric Myelodysplastic Syndrome
Dr. Winters' research is focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a devastating blood disorder that inevitably leads to a resistant form of AML in children if left untreated. Even with bone marrow or stem cell 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, 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 and AML 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. Dr. Forester will study patient samples in his research lab to incorporate biomarkers of response and better understand the driving biologic and genomic events that lead to different characteristics in pediatric MDS, which will better inform treatment for current and future patients. Dr. Winters recently received a Career Development Award from the American Cancer Society, and funding from SAA has supported the launch of her independent scientific research career.
Brain Tumor Research Study
Dr. Green’s pediatric brain tumor research 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 the 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. 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 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. Integrating these data into other bioinformatic and genomic data will further inform and refine our prognostic and treatment approaches for children with brain tumors.
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, a life-threatening and potentially fatal infection of the blood. 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.
Improving detection of CAR-T Cells in Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Dr. Murphy’s research is focused on improving cure rates in children with leukemia using CAR T cell therapy. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of childhood cancer. Most children with ALL can be cured with chemotherapy alone. However, some patients have leukemia that returns after chemotherapy and are at high risk of dying without improved treatment options. CAR T cell therapy is a promising treatment approach for these patients. CAR T cells are immune cells that are reprogrammed in a way to target and kill cancer cells. Detecting the presence of these cells in a patient’s blood after treatment helps clinicians understand how well the CAR T cells are working. The more of these cells that survive long-term in the body, the more likely that patient is to continue to be cancer-free. CAR T cells currently in clinical use have limited persistence, resulting in higher risk of leukemia relapse. A novel CAR T cell product has been developed at the University of Colorado that targets two different proteins on leukemia cells and has the potential for greater persistence and lower risk of relapse. This project will use advanced testing modalities to detect these CAR T cells in mice and in patients treated on a clinical trial, to determine if these cells improve cure rates for patients with leukemia.
ACTIVE PATIENT AMBASSADORS
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.
Harper was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a type of kidney cancer in children, at 14 months. She underwent a nephrectomy and continues to receive all of her treatments and follow-up care at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She has been cancer free since 2014!! Harper and her family have always been treated with kindness and compassion by her care team under Drs. Thomas Smith and Jessica Bloom and are so thankful for all the care received at Children’s Hospital Colorado. In Harper’s own words “Children’s Hospital Colorado is THE BEST!!”
Today Harper is a joyful, kind and funny 4th grader, participates in gymnastics, lacrosse, and swimming, and enjoys playing the piano. Harper is super proud of recently learning how to ski on the double back diamond runs!! By being a Swim Across America Patient Ambassador, Harper hopes to raise money to further support the funding of cancer research at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Midway through the 8th grade, Garrett was in a minor bicycling accident that uncovered an intramedullary spinal cord tumor. Twenty-two days later he was having surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado to resect the tumor; however, only 50% of the tumor was resected as attempting to resect more would have put his life at risk. Following the surgery, Garrett stayed at the hospital for 3 weeks to regain functionality and to learn to walk again. Some of his most memorable experiences at Children’s Colorado was how everybody took such great care of him including the rehabilitation nurses, the doctors and all the incredible staff…..they all treated him as though he was family. Two of his favorite caregivers were Dr. Nathan Dahl from Hematology and Oncology, and Dr. Todd Hankinson from Neurosurgery as they both took the time to explain the care they were delivering in a manner that was empathetic, thoughtful, and comprehensible by someone without a medical background. Garrett just finished undergoing an investigational form of chemotherapy which has been successful in stabilizing the tumor.
Today Garrett is a sophomore at Cherry Creek High School. He plays the piano and various percussion instruments, speaks Spanish semi-fluently, loves public speaking, enjoys camping, hiking/climbing fourteeners, and traveling. He just finished his Eagle Scout project and hopes to earn the Eagle Scout, the highest achievement/rank attainable in the Scouts program of the Boy Scouts of America, in a couple of months.
While Garrett can’t swim at the level he could prior to his diagnosis, he still enjoys swimming as a form of physical therapy and recreation. As an SAA ambassador, he wants to share his story with others fighting cancer and support them through their journey.
Sunny had just turned 6 years old and in kindergarten when her Mom noticed a lump on the left side of her face that would not go away. Three biopsies later, she was diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a type of salivary gland cancer. Through a collaboration between the otolaryngology and the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders teams at Children’s Hospital Colorado, the tumor was surgically removed and then treated with radiation.
Sunny and her family have always been treated with kindness and compassion by her care team and are so thankful for all the care received at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Two of her most memorable experiences while at the hospital where the LOL Surprise Dolls that were given to her as gifts and the Christmas party where she was able to get her picture taken with various Disney characters. Two of her favorite caregivers included a nurse that helped her walk and an occupational therapist that is helping her move the muscles in her face again.
Today Sunny is an artistic, lucky, and beautiful 4th grader, participates in judo, swimming at the Big Blue Swim School, speaks two languages, and enjoys drawing, painting, dancing, and singing. Sunny is super proud of winning a gold and silver medal in judo at the Rocky Mountain State Games!! By being a Swim Across America Patient Ambassador, Sunny wants to help other kids like her with their illness and let them know they are not alone.
PATIENT AMBASSADOR ALUMNI
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 recently completed her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University. She is completing a one-year rotating small animal internship at a private practice in Columbia, South Carolina. Afterwards she aspires to earn her board certification in veterinary medical oncology and work on developing better treatments for four and two-legged friends. Lauren swims because it remains a constant in her life and she is thrilled that her sport can have such a large impact on the world. Lauren has seen the amazing things that Swim Across America can do: as a patient ambassador, a swimmer and as a cancer researcher.
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. 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. SAA My Way participants can lead their own team or join an open water team to fundraise together!
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.
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.
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.
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 $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. Participants may direct donors to mail checks to the PO Box noted above.
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.
Event Schedule is tentative and subject to change.
5:45 am: Volunteer Check In
6:30 am: Registration Opens (Closes at 7:30 am)
6:45 am: Mandatory Water Safety Meeting for Water Volunteers
7:25 am: Welcome Program
8:00 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.
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.
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.
Date: November 10, 2023
Time: 5:30 - 8:00 PM
Date: January 19th
Time: 4:30 - 6:30 PM
Date: January 25th
Time: 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Highlands Ranch, CO
Date: December 29th, 2023
Time: 3:30PM - 4:45PM
Greenwood Village, CO
Greenwood Village, CO
Greenwood Village, CO
Interested in raising money for SAA - Denver, 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 Eric Vitcenda or Holden Bank to learn more!
You may choose to participate in an Olympian swim clinic, organized workout or both. All ages are welcome.
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 Vanderpoel or Holden Bank.
Here are some recent stories that display the impact members of the Swim Across America family have had in the Denver community.
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