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.
Proceeds from the swim will support clinical trials and cancer research at VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Welcome to the Swim Across America - Richmond Open Water Swim! 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 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 3rd annual swim on August 21st in the James River!
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.
SAA - Richmond funds benefit VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Read about the specific cancer research projects your funds are supporting with our 2020 Impact Report.
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.
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.
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:
Teams that raise $200 per participant can choose a giant team float that fits all 6 team members:
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.
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:
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.
Water temperatures can vary. Please read our full wetsuit policy and tips on our Policies Page.
Online Purchase: Orca is offering a 15% discount on all Orca wetsuits with code SAAPARTICIPANT15.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
2019 Schedule: (2020 schedule coming soon)
Friday, August 20th
5:00-7:00pm: Practice Swim, Kayak Drop-off
Saturday, August 21st
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
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.
The following hotel is centrally-located for swimmers attending this event:
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Richmond-Midlothian
1021 Koger Center Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23235
All course maps and descriptions for each distance can be found in the 2019 Richmond Swimmer Information Packet!
2021 Richmond Swimmer Information Packet coming soon!
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.
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!
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.