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"Make Waves to Fight Cancer" with us at the 2nd annual Swim Across America - Motor City Mile Open Water Swim being held on Friday, July 10th, 2020 at Belle Isle Beach. The event will benefit local cancer research at Rogel Cancer Center. Registration is now open! If you are interested in being involved in the SAA - Motor City Mile planning committee, please email Amy Wheatley.


Swim Across America is excited to return to Detroit with the Motor City Mile. We offer this charity swim as a way to "Make Waves to Fight Cancer" and continue to support research at University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center in 2020!

This event is not a competition, but an enjoyable fundraising event for everyone! You can sign up as a swimmer, kayaker, or event volunteer. As a swimmer, you will be expected to raise a minimum amount of money based on your age and the event in which you choose to participate. There are no minimum fundraising amounts for kayakers, paddle boarders or event volunteers, however, we do encourage you to do so if at all possible.

If you have any questions about SAA - Motor City Mile, please contact Amy Wheatley.

Swim Across America, Inc. (“SAA”) is a nonprofit corporation recognized by the IRS with federal tax-exempt status as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Tax ID #22-3248256)


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

8:20am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for 5K and 1-mile swimmers

8:30am: 5K swim starts

8:45am: 1-mile swim starts

9:30am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for all 1/2-mile swimmers

9:45am: 1/2-mile swims start

11:00am: Post event celebration and lunch at the Detroit Yacht Club!
*cost of the lunch is included for all swimmers and volunteers. 


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 Swimmer - $1,000 Minimum:

WaveMakers are elite SAA fundraisers and go above and beyond the call of duty by pledging to raise at least $1,000 regardless of your age. You can sign up for any of the distances. WaveMakers get an exclusive WM gift and access to the WM tent on event day where they will have access to other perks and swag.

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.

Distance Options:

  • 0.5 - Mile
  • 1 - Mile
  • 5K

Registration Fees:

There is a registration fee that will be credited towards each swimmer's fundraising minimum. Online registration will close 48 hours prior to the swim! Event day registration may still be available if space permits. The registration fee will change as follows:

  • Register before May 8th with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between May 9th and June 12th with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between June 13th and event day with a registration fee of $100


Age Requirements:

Participants ages 12 and under who would like to sign up for the 1 mile or 5K 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.


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 10% discount on all Orca wetsuits with code SAA10.

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 this is your first time participating in Swim Across America 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 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.
11600 N. Community House Rd, #100
Charlotte, NC 28277

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


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.


Swim Location

Belle Isle Beach House
Riverbank Drive
Detroit, MI 48207


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.


SAA - MCM course map


2020 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.

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