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Thank you for 'Making Waves' at SAA-Motor City Mile this year! You can still register as an SAA My Way virtual participant and fundraise all year.

Welcome to the Swim Across America - Motor City Mile Open Water Swim! Our 6th annual event will be held on Friday, July 12, 2024 at Belle Isle Beach. The event benefits local cancer research at Rogel Cancer Center.

7:00-8:00: Mandatory Check-in
8:30: Rolling start
11:00: Event Concludes
Belle Isle Beach House
Oakway & Riverbank Dr
Detroit, MI 48207
Swim Options
.25 mile, .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 raised over $500,000 to support our beneficiary: the University of Michigan 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 6th annual swim on July 12 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."

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


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.

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 Kathy Denton to answer any questions.

Distance Options:

  • 0.25 Mile
  • 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 April 15 with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between April 15 and June 16 with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between June 17 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

2024 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.

Wetsuits: Orca is an SAA wetsuit partner offering a 20% discount and entry to win a $500 gift card when you shop through our SAA Orca link.

2024 Swimmer Packet:

Please review the 2024 SWIMMER AND VOLUNTEER INFO PACKET before the event. It contains important information about the schedule, what to expect and what to bring.


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.

Read the 2024 SAA-Motor City Mile impact report.

RESEARCH MILESTONE! Dr. Kyoung Lee received $1.4M grant from NCI to study the role of low oxygen supply in pancreatic cancer. Initial funding for this project was granted by SAA-Motor City Mile.

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


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. 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 Newell (Byers).

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.


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

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


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.

6:00 am: Land Volunteer Check-in begins

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

7:30 am: Boater safety briefing & equipment check (DYC Outdoor Patio)

7:30 am: Lifeguard safety briefing (at Belle Isle Beach)

7:45 am: Kayak and SUP safety briefing (at Belle Isle Beach)

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

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

8:45 am: 2 mile swim starts

8:55 am: 1 mile swim starts

9:05 am: 1/2 mile swim starts

9:15 am: 1/4 mile swim starts

10:00 am: 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 MacArthur Bridge to enter Belle Isle State Park is located at the intersection of Jefferson Ave and East Grand Blvd.

Once across the bridge, the road will veer to the right and become Sunset Drive - stay in the far left lane.

Take the left fork to merge onto Casino Way.

After the DNR toll booth, continue straight on Central Ave.

Central Ave will take you through the center of Belle Isle, including through the treed/marshy area, until it intersects with Lakeside Dr at the end of the island.

Turn left onto Lakeside Dr.

Continue on Lakeside/Riverside Dr past the Detroit Yacht Club.

After the Detroit Yacht Club, Belle Isle Beach will be visible.

There will be 2 entrance options to the Belle Isle Bath House parking lot - use either one to park for the event.


Parking is available in the Belle Isle Beach House lot. 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.



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


If you have any questions about SAA - Motor City Mile, please contact Kathy Denton, Patrick Weiss or Lindsey Newell (Byers).

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