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Join the Richmond Open Water Swim and Fight Cancer with Swim Across America.
Swimmers of all ages and levels are invited to take part in our 3rd annual Richmond benefit swim in the James River. Your participation will help us "Make Waves to Fight Cancer" and raise money for cancer research, prevention and treatment.

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.

7:30am: Venues open
9:00am: Swimmers start
9:30am: Floaters start
9910 Cherokee Rd
Richmond, VA 23235
Swim Options
1-Mile Swim
1-Mile Float
SAA My Way (Virtual)
$200 Minimum

Welcome to the Swim Across America - Richmond Open Water Swim and Float! Established in 2019, SAA - Richmond has raised over $50,000 for our beneficiary: VCU Massey Cancer Center. Thank you for your support of cancer care in Richmond.

Each year we are proud to host over 100 swimmers, volunteers, spectators, and supporters, as well as Olympians from near and far at our charity swim. We are so excited to have you join us at the James River for our 3rd annual swim and float on August 21st!

Whether you are a veteran swimmer, you're looking to do your first open water swim, or you just want a fun relaxing float down the river, 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.


Proceeds from the swim will support clinical trials and cancer research at VCU Massey Cancer Center.

Read about the specific cancer research projects your funds are supporting with our 2020 Impact Report.


Participation Options:

  • 1.0-Mile Swim
  • 1.0-Mile Float
  • SAA My Way - Virtual Challenge

General Fundraising Requirement: $200 for in-person participants

All swimmers and floaters are asked to raise at least $200 by event day and will receive an event shirt, towel and post event food for participating.

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.

The Wavemaker VIP Area:
When you reach Wavemaker status by raising $1000 or more, you will enjoy the perks of VIP Status at SAA-Richmond. Along with your SAA soft cotton shirt, beach towel and swim cap you’ll receive exclusive access for you and one guest to the Wavemaker VIP Pool section of the venue including:

  • Exclusive Check-In area
  • Pre-Event Coffee and snacks
  • Exclusive bar area
  • On-site parking at the Host home
  • Yeti “Wavemaker” tumbler
  • Indoor bathroom access

All while lounging in the onsite pool listening to the classic rock tunes of “The Royal We”.

SAA My Way Virtual Challenge - July 21st to Aug 20

Join SAA-Richmond virtually to support cancer research at VCU Massey Cancer Center. Choose your activity to help us beat our total mileage logged in the 2020 SAA Coast to Coast challenge, while making a difference in the fight against cancer in your community! Register as an SAA My Way participant with a $50 donation and receive a goodie bag with tshirt, sticker and button. Fundraising is encouraged but not required.

Swim Across America - Richmond - Aug 21

Swim or Float with us on August 21st! Register as a swimmer or floater with a $50 donation and commit to raising $200 to support cancer research at VCU Massey Cancer Center. Swimmer and floater participation includes:

  • participation in SAA My Way - Virtual Challenge July 21 - Aug 20
  • SAA - Richmond Finale in person on August 21
  • Safe, fun, chip-timed downriver swim or float
  • SAA soft cotton tshirt
  • SAA beach towel
  • SAA swim cap
  • post event celebration

Swim as an Individual, or on a Team

A person may elect to participate 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 their individual fundraising minimums based on their age, distance or WaveMaker status as noted in the prior sections.

Registration Self-Donation:

All participants register with a $50 donation. The registration self-donation is a 100% tax deductible donation that will be will be credited towards each participants fundraising minimum. The minimum self-donation amount will change as follows:


All swimmers and volunteers must complete the waiver found here.

Wetsuit Policy, Rentals and Purchases:

Water temperatures can vary. 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.


How does the Float Work?

Floaters should register online using the registration link: FLOATER REGISTRATION

From there you can choose to:

  • “Create a new team”
    Choose this option if you would like to fundraise as a team and intend to float together either as a group of individual floats or one BIG float.
  • “Re-create a past team”
    Choose this option if you’ve done this before and you simply want to register your team again for this year.
  • “Join an already established team”
    Choose this option if someone has already created a team and you simply need to join that team.
  • “Participate as an individual”
    Choose this option if you are going solo

Once you are registered, Swim Across America will provide you with various options to assist you in your fundraising efforts.

On event day, you will have two options:

BYOF Bring your own float
Fundraise to gain access to several different SAA provided floats.

Fundraise as an individual - $100
Choose: Variety of Options

Fundraise as an individual - $200
Choose from:

  • Llama
  • Unicorn
  • Slice of Pizza
  • Others coming soon

Be the first team of 2 floaters to Fundraise: $500
Choose: Giant Unicorn (seats 2)

Be the first team of up to 4 floaters to Fundraise: $1000
Choose: Floating Beach Cabana (seats 4)

Be the first team of up to 6 floaters to Fundraise: $1500
Choose: Giant Flamingo (seats 6-8)

Once you or your team reach the designated fundraising ask, we will notify you by email in order to make your selection.

If you Bring Your Own Float (BYOF)

You will head to the start venue located at 10610 Cherokee Rd to drop off and inflate your float. This area will open at 7:30am and will have inflation stations available. Please give yourself plenty of time depending on the size and time it will take to inflate your float. Once you have set up your float, you can proceed to the Check-In/Finish Venue to park, check-in and get your SWAG.

If you are using an SAA-provided float

If you have accomplished the fundraising goal to use an SAA-provided float, that float will be set up for you and there is no need for you to go to the start location first. You can proceed directly to the Check-In/Finish Venue to park, check-in and get your SWAG.

At 9:45am, shuttles will begin transporting all float participants up to the start.
At 10am we will begin launching floats for the trip down river.


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-Richmond 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.

SPECIAL SAA-RICHMOND My Way Challenge: Register to help us beat our 2020 Coast to Coast virtual challenge milage total! Track your activity from July 21 - August 20 to help SAA - Richmond 'travel' coast to coast, while fighting cancer research in your community.


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 NAME & EMAIL.


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 - Richmond
4161 Traylor Drive
Richmond, VA 23235

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 found here.


9910 Cherokee Rd.
Richmond, VA 23235

Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

7:30am: Venues open

  • Check-In/Finish Area (9910 Cherokee Rd) For pre-event check-in
  • Start Area (10610 Cherokee Rd) for float drop-off, inflation, and staging

8:30am: Shuttles begin departing Check-In/Finish area to take swimmers to the start.

9:00am: Swimmers Start

9:20AM: Frist Swimmers complete 1-mile swim

9:30am: Shuttles begin departing Check-In/Finish area to take floaters and any swimmers who are also participating in the float to the start area.

9:40am: Final Swimmer clears the water

9:45am: Post Event Food service begins

10:00am Float starts

10:30am: “The Royal We” begins

11:00am River Clear

1pm: Event Ends


Swim Location:

9910 Cherokee Rd, Richmond, VA 23235

Places to Stay:

The following hotel is centrally-located for swimmers attending this event:

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Richmond-Midlothian
1021 Koger Center Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23235
(203) 358-8400

Course Map

2021 Richmond Swimmer Information Packet coming soon!


What will the water temperature be?

Although water temperature in the James can vary greatly depending on the prevailing weather pattern in the weeks leading up to the race, a 10-year review of water temps in the James River shows an average of 79-86 in Mid- August.

What will the current be like?

This is harder to predict, but we chose the date based on historically favorable water conditions that time of year. We expect the fastest swimmers to finish the 1-mile swim in about 20-minutes and anticipate all swimmers will be out of the water in about 40-mintues.

How do I log my miles during Jul 21 Aug 21?

Once you’ve registered either as an “SAA My Way” participant or Swimmer/Floater, you will have your own webpage to use to assist with telling your story and to aid in fundraising. On the top left of that page, click the link “Track Activity”. That will allow you to insert the type of activity, date, distance in miles and duration. You can even add a photo.


Celebrate an inspirational day with brunch from Great Harvest Bread Company and music from the band "The Royal We". Prizes and Giveaways will be awarded to:

  • Top Fundraiser - Individual/Team
  • Most Participants - Team
  • Most Volunteers - Volunteer Group
  • Top Mileage Accumulator - for SAA My Way Challenge and Event Day activities
  • Best/Craziest Float

Start A Pool Swim

Interested in raising money for SAA - Richmond, 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 us to learn more!


If you have any questions about SAA - Richmond, please contact Jay Peluso.