2017 marked the 30th year of Swim Across America using the sport we all love to raise money for cancer research, and that anniversary was marked with a record-setting fundraising haul of $4.8 million. That doesn’t include a $3 million donation from pharmaceutical giant Merck that is being invested to create new SAA charity swims. Since founding, SAA has granted more than $70 million.
That money goes to funding research to fight cancer, at a 73% rate: which ranks them on par with charities listed on charitywatch.org’s “Top Rated Charities” list. Next year, the organization will sponsor 18 swims in every corner of the United States, where age group, masters, and professional swimmers will continue to gather to swim in open water races, and raise money for a worthy cause. The organization also raises money via roughly 100 pool swims every year.
Swim Across American began in 1987, as the follow-up to the one-year Run Across America event completed by the organization’s two founders, Jeff Keith (no relation) and Matt Vossler, in 1985. In 8 months, the two ran across the United States over the course of 8 months and raised $1 million for cancer research.
Keith, a cancer survivor, Vossler, and their childhood friend Hugh Curran launched the first fundraiser in 1987 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. 12 years ago, Keith would turn his focus to launching the Connecticut Challenge to start a cancer survivorship center in Connecticut (and that organization has had great success as well, raising almost $21 million).
There have been many spectacular people and organizations that have raised money to fight many diseases, especially cancer. That includes programs like Bryant University’s swim team, which raised $11,500 last year for Swim Across America. The Jesse Joy Reese Foundation, named after a young swimmer who died in 2012 at 12-years old has mobilized a huge number of people both to raise money, and to spread joy under the banner of “Never Ever Give Up.” Many of the biggest businesses in swim, including TYR with it’s TYR Pink collection, have also chipped in to the cause.
At Swim Across America, participants have the option to swim a ½ mile, 1 mile or 2 mile distance and can swim solo or form a team. Children ages 11 and under are also invited to take part in a 50-meter freestyle swim. Not a swimmer? Not a problem! You can sponsor a swimmer, make a general donation or volunteer at the event.
For more information about Swim Across America and how to get involved, visit swimacrossamerica.org.