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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.


Even in these uncertain times, we can continue making waves to fight cancer. As we navigate COVID-19, we've created a special webpage for event updates, helpful information and ways you can continue to support the mission of Swim Across America.

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 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, and 1 mile.

Not a competitive swimmer? Join us for the 'Float 500'!! 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:

  • 0.25-Mile
  • 0.5-Mile
  • 1.0-Mile
  • Float 500

The Richmond Float 500

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 minimum registration self-donation 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

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:

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 1st with a registration fee of $50
  • Register between May 2nd and July 10th with a registration fee of $75
  • Register between July 11th and event day with a registration fee of $100

**For the remainder of the 2020 event season minimum self-donations will remain at $50 until event day.

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


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.


2019 Schedule: (2020 schedule coming soon)

Friday, July 31st

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

Saturday, August 1st

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.


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.


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!

2020 Richmond Swimmer Information Packet coming soon!


Swim Location:

Upper James River
American Legion Post 354
4800 Welby Turn
Midlothian, VA 23113

The easiest way to get there is to head to Robious Landing Park near James River High School. Take a right onto Riverton Ridge Way just before the entrance to the park. Take that up to the traffic circle and go left onto Welby Drive. Take your 5th right onto Welby Turn and go to the end of the cul-de-sac.
You will see the sign for the American Legion, and Swim Across America logo banner at the entrance to the property at the end of Welby Turn.

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, a 10-year review of water temps in the James River shows an average of 79-86 in early 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. The current has been minimal the last three years and the course makes the upriver leg easier by being closer to the river bank.


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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