User Login



New User?
Trouble signing in?

"Make Waves to Fight Cancer" with us at the 3rd annual Swim Across America - Motor City Mile Open Water Swim being held on Friday, July 9th, 2021 at Belle Isle Beach. The event benefits local cancer research at Rogel Cancer Center.

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.

7:00-8:00: Mandatory Check-in
8:30: Rolling start
11:00: Event Concludes
Belle Isle Beach House
Riverbank Dr
Detroit, MI 28207
Swim Options
.5 mile, 1 mile, 2 miles
SAA My Way (Virtual)
18+: $400
Under 18: $200

Welcome to the Swim Across America - Motor City Mile Open Water Swim! Established in 2019, SAA - Motor City Mile has granted over $50,000 to our beneficiary: Rogel Cancer Center. Thank you for your support of cancer care in Detroit.

Each year we are proud to host over 150 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 3rd annual swim on July 9th at Belle Isle 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.

If you are interested in being involved in the SAA - Motor City Mile planning committee, please email Amy Wheatley.


SAA-Motor City Mile benefits cancer research at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, where roughly 500 researchers are working to prevent cancer, improve outcomes for those diagnosed, and improve quality of life for cancer patients and survivors.

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


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 register as an individual, 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. The team captain will be asked to set a whole team fundraising goal during registration, but will only be responsible for their individual self-donation contribution in order to complete registration and set up the team.

Distance Options:

  • 0.5 Mile
  • 1 Mile
  • 2 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 1st with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between May 1st and June 10th with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between June 11th and event day with a registration fee of $100

Registration will close 48 hours prior to the swim!

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.

Course Map

2021 Motor City Mile Course


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver that will be 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 at the event typically range from 68-74 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.

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.


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-Motor City Mile 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. For questions regarding land volunteers, please contact Patrick Weiss.

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. For any questions regarding water volunteers, please contact Lindsey Byers.

Questions about volunteering? Check out our SAA Volunteer Page.


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, Inc.
8508 Park Road, #389
Charlotte, NC 28210

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 that will be found HERE.


Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

6:30am: Volunteer Check-in begins

7:00am - 8:00am: Swimmer Check-in (all events)

8:00am: Welcome and 'Why I Swim' Program

8:30am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for all swimmers

8:45am: 2-mile swim starts

8:55am: 1-mile swim starts

9:05am: 1/2-mile swims start

10:00am: Post event lunch at the Beach!


Swim Location

Belle Isle Beach House
Riverbank Drive
Detroit, MI 48207

Motor City Mile Location

Course Map

2021 Motor City Mile Course


The bridge to enter Belle Isle Park is located at the intersection of Jefferson Ave and East Grand Blvd.

Once across the bridge, continue to the right on Sunset Drive then turn left on Casino Way.

In a tenth of a mile, continue to the right onto Central Ave.

Continue on Central Ave for 1 mile before turning left on Portage Way.

Portage Way will dead end at Oakway.

Turn left on Oakway, which will turn into Riverbank Dr.

Belle Isle Beach House will on your right.


Parking is available in the Belle Isle Beach House lot or along Riverbank Drive. Please ensure to obey all posted signage.

Please note: Belle Isle is a state park managed by the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Michigan DNR requires a recreation passport for all vehicles visiting state parks. More information can be found here.

If purchasing your recreational passport the day of, note the visitor booth at the park entrance may not be open yet when you arrive. Please proceed to Belle Isle Beach House, park and attend the event. Michigan DNR may place a notification on your vehicle to return to the visitor booth to purchase after the event. The cost of a day pass is $9 and annual passes for Michigan residents are $11 (cash, credit & check accepted).

We suggest that participants make plans to carpool, where possible.


2021 Olympians and Special Guests TBA.

SAA - Motor City Mile was lucky to have the support of these Olympians who attended our swim in 2019:

Peter Vanderkaay - a former University of Michigan Swimmer and 4-time Olympic medalist who participated in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Chris Thompson - a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist in the 1500-meter freestyle and former 1500-meter freestyle American record holder. Chris also swam for the University of Michigan. He now resides in Michigan where he coaches the Plymouth Canton Cruisers.


Please watch our '2020 SAA-Motor City Mile Celebration Video' here!


If you have any questions about SAA - Motor City Mile, please contact Amy Wheatley, Patrick Weiss or Lindsey Byers.

Local Sponsors