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The swim has been relocated to the Traylor Estates Civic Association Riverfront Property (10600-10620 Cherokee Rd, Richmond, VA 23235). Please review the swimmer packet for updated information.

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 2nd 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.

Online registration is now closed. Day of registration available beginning at 8:15am Saturday.



Welcome to the Swim Across America - Richmond Open Water Swim. 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."

Come support cancer research at VCU Massy Cancer Center by choosing from 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2.4 mile or 5K swim options. NEW this year: we are adding the 'Float 500' so that everyone can come join the fun and help raise funds to support VCU Massy Cancer Center!

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.


General Fundraising Requirement: $400 for ages 18 & over, $200 for under 18

All swimmers are required to raise at least $400 by event day. Swimmers under 18 are required to raise $200 by event day. All swimmers receive an event shirt, towel and silicone swim cap for participating.

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 4 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.

Distance Options:

  • 0.5-Mile
  • 1.0-Mile
  • 2.4-Mile
  • 5.0-Mile
  • NEW in 2019! Float 500

The Richmond Float 500

NEW FOR 2019: SAA-Richmond has added the “Float 500” for those non-swimmers wanting to participate. Participants will float 500m down river to the finish line. With giant team size floats, costumes, and smaller fundraising goals, the float option is a fun, exciting way for non-swimmers to participate and make waves to fight cancer!

Participants can join the fun with a registration fee of $50 and their own float. Raise additional funds to choose from fun custom individual and team floats!

Participants are encouraged to sign up as teams of 6.

Teams that raise $100 per participant get to choose from a collection of custom one-person floats:

  • Giant Llama
  • Pizza slice (get six and try to float together as a whole pizza pie!)
  • Giant unicorn

Teams that raise $200 per participant can choose a giant team float that fits all 6 team members:

  • Swan
  • Flamingo
  • Peacock
  • Unicorn
  • Tahiti Island

5-Mile Swimmer

Participants in the 5 mile swim are required to have a personal kayaker along side them for the duration of the swim. Your kayaker should register online as a 5-Miler Escort Paddler and note the name of the swimmer for whom they are accompanying in the registration process. Volunteers are encouraged to fundraise as well.

5-Miler Escort Paddler:

Escort Paddlers are required to provide their own kayak, paddle, and PFD. If you do not have access to this equipment you can rent them through Kayak Richmond. Your kayak, paddle and PFD will be brought to the site and be waiting for you upon your arrival. Contact Kayak Richmond at and tell them you would like to rent equipment for the October 5th Swim Across America-Richmond event.

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 Fees:

There is a registration fee that will be credited towards each swimmer's fundraising minimum. The registration fee will change as follows:

  • Register before July 12th with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between July 13th and September 6th with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between September 7th 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.

Qualification Documentation for 2.4-Mile and 5-Mile Swimmers:

Each participant must submit ONE of the following items listed here to qualify for entry into the 5.0 or the 2.4 mile event.


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 10% discount on all Orca wetsuits with code SAA10.


Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

Friday, October 4th

5:00-7:00pm: Practice Swim, Kayak Drop-off

Saturday, October 5th

8:00am: Gates Open

8:15am: Packet Pick-Up Opens (all events)

9:00am: Mandatory 5-miler escort and safety kayaker briefing

9:15am: Packet Pick-Up Closes (all events)

9:15am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for 5-mile and 2.4-mile swimmers

9:30am: "Why I Swim" Ceremony

9:50am: 5-miler swim starts

10:00am: 2.4-mile swim starts

10:10am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for all 1-mile and 1/2-mile safety kayakers

10:15am: Mandatory Pre-Swim Briefing for all 1-mile and 1/2-mile swimmers

10:30am: 1-mile & 1/2-mile swims start

10:30am: Float 500 bus departs to float start location

2:00pm: Course Cut-Off


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 - Richmond
4161 Traylor Drive
Richmond, VA 23235

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


Qualification Documentation for 2.4-Mile and 5-Mile Swimmers:

Each participant must submit ONE of the following items listed here to qualify for entry into the 5.0 or the 2.4 mile event.

Swim Across America makes swimmer safety the most important component of all our swimming events. A Safety Director is responsible for coordinating all activities within an event, and works closely with the local Fire, Police and EMT's to ensure swimmer safety. We will have a number of lifeguards, safety kayakers and safety boats out on the course with us to ensure swimmer safety at all times. All boats are able to communicate via both hand held and ship to shore radios. All swimmers are required to follow specific procedures to participate in the event. These procedures are designed to protect swimmers from injury and will be enforced by the Safety Director.


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.


All course maps and descriptions for each distance can be found in the 2019 Richmond Swimmer Information Packet!



Traylor Estates Civic Association Riverfront Property
10600-10620 Cherokee Rd
Richmond, VA 23235



The driveway to the property is located between 10600 and 10620 Cherokee Rd. Parking at this location is extremely limited. We ask everyone to carpool as much as possible so that we can fit as many people on the property as possible. Be sure to follow the instructions from our parking volunteers. Once the property is full, you will need to park on either Denbigh Rd or Traylor Drive which are across the street from the entrance to property. These are neighborhood roads so please be sure not to block driveways or rights of way.

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


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, we expect the water temperature to be in the low 70's.

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. The current has been minimal the last three years and the course makes the upriver leg easier by being closer to the river bank.

Can I change my 1500m seed time?

Yes, you can change your seed time until September 30th by emailing us.


Celebrate an inspirational day with a catered brunch, massages and great music!


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!


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