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Join the Charleston - Kiawah Island Open Water Swim and Fight Cancer with Swim Across America.
Swimmers of all ages and levels are invited to take part in our fourth Kiawah Island charity swim. Your participation will help us "Make Waves to Fight Cancer" and raise money locally for cancer research at Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina.

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.

6:30-7:30: Mandatory Check-in
8:30: Rolling start
10:00: Post Event Celebration
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Night Heron Park
Kiawah Island, SC 29455
Swim Options
.5 mile, 1.5 mile
SAA My Way (Virtual)
18+: $400
Under 18: $200

Welcome to the Swim Across America - Charleston-Kiawah Open Water Swim! Established in 2018, SAA - Charleston-Kiawah has raised over $140,000 for our beneficiary: Hollings Cancer Center. Thank you for your support of cancer care in Charleston-Kiawah.

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 4th annual swim on August 15th at Night Heron Park!

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.


Swim Across America - Charleston-Kiawah supports cancer research and clinical trials at Hollings Cancer Center. Read about the specific cancer research projects your funds are supporting below.


SAA - Charleston-Kiawah funds have supported the Hollings Cancer Center at Medical University of South Carolina since 2019.

2020 GRANT AMOUNT: $50,000

GRANT RECIPIENT: Haizhen (Jen) Wang, Ph.D. (Profile)

PROJECT: CDK6 in T-cell Leukemia Immune Evasion

Project Details: Relapse is the most common cause of treatment failure in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It is not clear how leukemia cells escape the immune system to infiltrate and relapse. Upregulation of PD-L1 on cancer cells is one of the important mechanisms to initiate their immune evasion. Recent studies showed that high PD-L1 expression levels are associated with relapse and worse overall survival rates in leukemia. Understanding the regulatory mechanism of PD-L1 expression in leukemia cells will help to develop therapeutic strategies to prevent immune evasion, infiltration and relapse of leukemia. My previous work showed that cyclin-dependent kinase 6 (CDK6) has pro-survival functions in T acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) by regulating glycolysis and cellular reactive oxygen species. Recent work by my laboratory found CDK6 facilitates PFKP nuclear translocation to promote leukemia infiltration. Importantly, we found CDK6 dependent phosphomimic PFKP-S679E upregulates PD-L1 expression in T-ALL. This study will elucidate the molecular functions of CDK6 in regulating PD-L1 expression and immune evasion of leukemia cells, and provide fundamental theory about therapeutic effect of CDK6 inhibition on T-ALL relapse. The overarching hypothesis is: CDK6 drives T-ALL immune evasion through the phosphorylation of PFKP and PD-L1 expression.


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.

All participating swimmers receive an event shirt, a swim cap and a towel as part of the day's festivities.

Participate and Fundraise as an Individual, or on a Team

A person may elect to participate alone or be part of a fundraising team. Grab your colleagues, high school, college alums or neighborhood friends and form a team. Many of our teams swim in honor or memory of a loved one. Teams are inspirational and rewarding for all of us involved with Swim Across America and there is no limit to how many team members you can have on it. All team members are still responsible to meet the fundraising minimum.

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.

Age Requirement:

Kiawah Island lifeguards and beach patrol are require an age requirement of 14 and up for both 0.5-mile and 1.5 mile options. For ages 14-17 - you'll need a coach’s or other's recommendation on ability. If you have any questions - please contact Brad Johnson.

Distance Options:

  • 0.5 Mile
  • 1.5 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 15th with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between May 16th and July 17th with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between July 18th and event day with a registration fee of $100

Online registration will close 48 hours prior to the swim! Event day registration may still be available if space permits.


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-Charleston-Kiawah 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.

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.

Questions about volunteering? Check out our SAA Volunteer Page or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Jana Chanthabane.


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
Attn: Brad Johnson
885 Island Park Dr.
Ste C
Charleston, SC 29492

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 this waiver to participate.


Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

6:30: Registration Opens

7:15: Pre-Event Mindfulness/Meditation Session

7:30: Registration Closes

7:30: Olympian Pictures & Music

7:45: Speeches and Ceremony at Pavilion, Why I Swim

8:00: Safety Talk

8:10: 1.5 Milers Catch Shuttle

8:30: 1.5 Mile Start

8:45: 0.5 Mile Swimmers walk to start

9:00: 0.5 Mile Start

9:30-10:00: Swim Concludes

10:00: Enjoy Post-Swim Festivities with Friends & Family


Course Map

The direction of the course is dependent on the current the morning of the swim. The course will follow either one of these maps below on event day. Both courses will end at Boardwalk 18 that is closest to Night Heron Park. Friends and families of participants are encouraged to greet swimmers at that location and enjoy the beach after the swim. 

SAA Kiawah 2018 Course Map North copy.jpg

SAA Kiawah 2018 Course Map South copy.jpg

Kiawah Island

The swim takes place in the vast, beautiful and calm Atlantic waters off Kiawah’s stunning coastline.


Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Night Heron Park
Kiawah Island Pkwy, Kiawah Island, SC 29455

Kiawah Island is a beach and golf resort located on a barrier island 15 miles (24 km) south of Charleston in Charleston County, South Carolina

Charleston International Airport is approximately a 45-minute drive from Kiawah Island.

Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island is approximately a 20-minute drive from Kiawah Island.

Directions from Savannah Highway/US-17:

Turn onto Main Road. (Land mark Burger King/BP Gas Station on the left). Continue on Main Road for 15 miles. Main road will change names three times: Main to Bohicket Road, Bohicket Road turns into Betsy Kerrison Parkway. You will arrive at a roundabout. Stay in the left lane as you enter the roundabout and proceed 3/4 ways around then take the right on Kiawah Island Parkway.

Once on the island, you will pass through the security gate (left lane) and mention Swim Across America.

Follow Swim Across America and Kiawah signs to Night Heron Park.

Places to Stay:

Kiawah Island Golf Resort accommodations



Join Swim Across America for a fun pool swim with contests, relays and instruction from Olympians and the Swim Across America team. All participants will receive a swim cap, tattoo and opportunities to get SAA swag - bring friends and family!

This pool party is open to everyone and we encourage families to attend.
- The event will be at Night Heron Park on Kiawah Island. Find the SAA tent to sign in.
- The event is free for everyone to participate.
- Mention Swim Across America at the gate if you're coming from off-island to attend.


4:15p - Sign in for the pool party, get caps and tattoos

4:30p - Olympian Intro to Swim Across America

4:40p - Group into 'divisions' to start off with a streamline distance contest

5:00p - 5:20p Games and relays

5:30p - Get pictures and sign caps with Olympian and enjoy some frozen treats!

Any questions can be sent here.



Freshfields Village is a proud sponsor of Swim Across America - Charleston-Kiawah swim.

The Swim Across America team will be on-site at the Acoustic Night on the Green on Thursday evening, August 12 from 6-9 pm to share their mission and meet guests. Participating retailers will host special events throughout the week to benefit Swim Across America. Stay tuned for more details soon!

vineyard vines will host a Shop & Share event on Thursday, August 12 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm with 20% of proceeds being donated to Swim Across America.

Join Hilliard Studio Method for a special outdoor class on the Village Green on Friday morning, August 13 at 8:30 am to benefit Swim Across America. Find all the details here.




Represented the United States at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He won two gold medals at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in the men's 4×100-meter medley relay event (1991 and 1994) and swam at University of Michigan.


Silver medalist for Team USA in the 200-butterfly at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. NCAA champion in 1976 at North Carolina State University.










If you have any questions about SAA - Charleston-Kiawah, please contact Brad Johnson or Jana Chanthabane.