A Message from a Non-Profit Leader. Thank you.

SAA Why I Swim FlagsFor three decades, Swim Across America has been hosting charity swims. The proceeds from our charity swims are then granted to fund cancer research. Since our first charity swim in 1987, we’ve granted around $100 million dollars to our hospital partners who have been at the forefront of developing new cures and treatments to fight cancer.

Our commitment is to continue providing hope to the individuals and families affected by cancer through support, inspiration, and leadership.

GogglesThe values of Swim Across America are rooted in family. We are grateful for the wisdom of our board members, whose steady leadership has guided Swim Across America through times of hardship; for example, weathering the storms of 2001 and 2008.

Lessons from other times of crisis have helped to prepare Swim Across America for uncertainty. Like many businesses, we’ve tightened our belts. Thanks to guardrails having been put in place years ago to safeguard our cause, we are facing these times with the strength of community and family.

  • Our team is taking on more local responsibility for our charity swims as our volunteers are experiencing their own challenges.
  • Our team is sharing stories about our grant partners to bring you hope and inspiration. Our grants continue to fund more than 60 oncology projects and the thousands of nurses, researchers, and patients within the programs.
  • Our team is creating new opportunities so the spirit and purpose of teams like Team Amazing Grace can continue to make an impact. A tour in honor of Grace Bunke was planned across 14-of our charity swims this year is being adjusted.

THANK YOU to our supporters, partners, and volunteers. You’ve shown your trust in us. We don’t take it for granted. We want you to know how much we appreciate you.

We are here for you now and as we continue to move forward, together.

Rob Butcher
Swim Across America | CEO

Swim Across America Commitment to Our Beneficiaries

March 23, 2020

To Our Beneficiary Partners,

This is an uncertain and stressful time for the medical community. We—your Swim Across America family—want you to know how much we appreciate the sacrifices you are making. We are always on your side and continue to proudly support you.

It’s too early to know what impact COVID-19 and the economic downturn will have on giving. What is certain, the donations received from the Swim Across America charity swim for which you are a beneficiary will be granted this December to continue supporting research and clinical trials.

Mia Levy-Chicago-2019In December of 2019, Swim Across America granted a record $6M that funded more than 60 investigator projects. It is a policy of Swim Across America that funds granted be used within the calendar year. We are writing to modify this policy given current circumstances and Swim Across America’s desire to support and preserve the human capital, and the research performed.

Given that investigators, post-docs, graduate students, and research personnel may be reassigned or otherwise unable to perform work on specific funded projects:

  • Swim Across America permits continue expenditure of funds that had been designated to salary/fringe to be used, even if those personnel are not able to carry out the Swim Across America funded research, and there is no alternative source of funds.
  • Swim Across America grants no-cost extensions for unused funds to a date yet determined, not to exceed 6 months from the end of the current funding period, unless further extended in future communications.
  • Swim Across America will delay the requirement of progress reports until the no-cost extension period concludes.

IMG_5973We acknowledge that you and your research staff (your intellectual base) may be on quarantine or not able to perform their work. We acknowledge some patients necessary to your research or clinical trials, may be on quarantine and not able to participate. Swim Across America supports all at your institution during these challenging times.

When the Swim Across America board of directors, working with experts, advisors, and our wide community of cancer researchers and clinicians feels some degree of normalcy has returned to the research community, we will reach out to assess the impact and make whatever adjustments in specific aims, timelines and budgets can be made to assist that valuable research goes forward.

48330487337_56768e8af4_oOur messaging for the foreseeable future will be themed around grants to our beneficiaries. You are giving hope to so many, and we want to showcase your impact as a gentle way to encourage supporters. Please share with Swim Across America those stories of how the important mission of conquering cancer will move forward in the face of these events.

Thank you for Making Waves to Fight Cancer with us.

Rob Butcher                                     Dr. Evan Vosburgh
Swim Across America | CEO        Swim Across America | Beneficiary Chair

Swim Across America Awards a Record $6 Million in Grants to Fight Cancer for 2020

48138357962_e6a8679aa6_k (1)

In 1987, an inaugural charity swim was hosted across Long Island Sound that raised $5,000 for cancer research. Since then, Swim Across America charity swims have granted nearly $100M that has funded innovative cancer research and clinical trials. Swim Across America grants have played a major role in the development of immunotherapy, detection, gene therapy and personalized medicine. The impact is that families who hear “you have cancer” are more than ever hearing “there is hope.”

In 2020, Swim Across America will be awarding a record $6 million in cancer research grants that will fund more than 50 projects and programs at the following beneficiaries: Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (Connecticut), Baylor Scott & White Sammons Cancer Center (Dallas), Cancer Support Team (Westchester, NY), RUSH University Medical Center (Chicago), Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York), Columbia University Medical Center (New York), Dana- Farber Cancer Institute (Boston), Feinstein Institute for Medical Research (New York), Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center (Charleston), Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (Baltimore), Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (Tampa), Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute (Charlotte), MassGeneral Hospital for Children (Boston), MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York), Moffitt Cancer Center (Tampa), Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Palliative and Support Care of Nantucket, Siteman Cancer Center (St. Louis), Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, UC Benioff Children’s Hospitals (San Francisco and Oakland), Children’s Hospital Colorado (Denver), University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center (Detroit), VCU Massey Cancer Center (Richmond) and Women and Infants Hospital (Rhode Island).

In addition to these grants that are being funded by Swim Across America charity swims within their community, Swim Across America is awarding $110,000 in grants to the Conquer Cancer Foundation (American Society of Clinical Oncology—ASCO) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) that will fund young investigators who have promising ideas to fight cancer.

For more information, please visit swimacrossamerica.org

Fall is Here, Now What?

The clocks changed this weekend and the leaves are turning. Swim Across America hosted 20 open water charity swims and more than 70 charity pool swims in 2019. Our supporters raised over $8 million ‘Making Waves to Fight Cancer’ with us.48837231922_f87177c9fb_c

So, now what?

We view our role as stewards of donated funds meaning we do not invest what participants have solicited through our charity swims in the stock market. Our bank account is at its highest mark in November. And in December, we will be at our lowest point because the participant-donated funds will be wired to our beneficiaries for approved grant purposes.

While our travel slows down in the fall, the activities in other ways pick up. For example, here is a sampling of responsibilities in the fall and winter that require our focus:

  • The reality is we do have costs such as permits, insurance, shipping, hospitality, merchandise and travel that need to be paid up.
  • Once the expenses are settled, we have tie-out calls with each of our local charity swim committees. We determine a modest reserve to sustain each charity swim and then the balance becomes the grant.

In other words, we drain the bank account!


Olympian and SAA Ambassador Kristy Kowal
  • We gather reports from each of our funded investigators. Our beneficiary and science committee then reviews the reports to ensure the grant was put to the intended focus. We look for successes and stories of breakthroughs that we can share.
  • Some funded investigators such as those at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Rush University Medical Center (Chicago) are coming to their grant cycle completion so we are selecting promising new investigators within the hospitals we can help launch.
  • We have new beneficiaries such as MD Anderson (Houston), Rogel Cancer Center (University of Michigan) (Detroit) and Hollings Cancer Center (Medical University of South Carolina) (Charleston-Kiawah) that we are selecting and awarding projects to fund.
  • Fall is the heaviest for matching gifts as we request and process on behalf of supporters.
  • We file the necessary legal paperwork to be recognized as a charity in each state.
  • The puzzle of the next year’s season is created.

And then the first week in January, we publish the Swim Across America website with our 2020 charity swims.


We truly appreciate the trust you place in us

– Swim Across America

Swim Across America Honored at 9th Annual Value-Based Cancer Summit

The 9th annual Value-Based Cancer Care Summit brought together more than 500 thought leaders in academic, government, pharmaceutical and biotech. Keynote speaker former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb provided his perspective on the future of oncology care and why the FDA is approving more treatments at a faster rate.

Swim Across America Board of Directors attend the 2019 Value-Based Cancer Care Summit.

In a personal testimonial, Dr. Luis Diaz of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center shared how Swim Across America grant funding supported his research and clinical trial ideas that helped lead to FDA approval of a Merck immunotherapy treatment that is giving hope to many fighting cancer.

Swim Across America ambassador Ryan Berube shares a personal story of his wife Michelle overcoming brain cancer.

Swim Across America, which has granted nearly $100M million dollars into cancer research, clinical trials and prevention, was honored as the beneficiary for the summit.

Value-Based Cancer Care Summit chair Burt Zweigenhaft and professional boxer Seamus McDonagh raise some funds during the charity auction.

Olympian and SAA ambassador Ryan Berube attended the summit. Ryan shared a personal story of his wife Michelle overcoming brain cancer while he was training for the Olympics. Ryan and Swim Across America CEO Rob Butcher lead the charity auction that raised $50,000. These proceeds will be used to help fund Swim Across America’s 2020 ASCO Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Award.

Rob Butcher and Ryan Berube lead the charity auction.

Being honored and attending events like the Value-Based Cancer Care Summit raises Swim Across America’s profile.

Swim Across America Partners with United Airlines for “Miles on a Mission” Program

Swim Across America and United Airlines are partnering for United’s “Miles on A Mission” program where United MileagePlus members can give back to charities by donating their airline miles. Check out their promotional video for the program here.

When donating to SAA, your miles will be used to cover travel for special guests attending Swim Across America charity swims. The miles will be used to offset travel costs we would have otherwise paid for, meaning more money can be granted to beneficiary hospitals.

The campaign will run until November 22 or until we reach our goal set at 250,000 miles. Help us reach our goal and take our impact further. Please share with friends and family for the biggest impact.

Ready to donate miles? Click here: bit.ly/SAAMilesonaMission




Michael Phelps Returns to Pool To Support Ms. Cathy and Swim Across America

Swim Across America partnered with the Michael Phelps Foundation for an inspiring charity swim honoring Michael’s learn-to-swim coach and cancer survivor, Cathy Bennett. The event in Mesa, Arizona raised over $55,000 that will fund a cancer research project at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.

Bennett, whom Phelps affectionately refers to as Ms. Cathy, is the Program Director of the Michael Phelps Foundation where she oversees the Foundation’s signature program – IM – which provides learn-to-swim, recreational aquatic activities, organized swim instruction, as well as health, wellness, and goal-setting programming.

Phelps, the most decorated swimmer in World Championships history and 28-time Olympic medalist, retired from competitive swimming in 2016.

Notable attendees included Dr. Bill Nelson, chief of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, three-time Olympian Allison Schmitt (2008, 2012, 2016), 2016 Olympic head coach and Arizona State University head coach Bob Bowman, and members of the ASU swim team.



Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.57.59 PM



safe_image (2)


Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 2.32.48 PM

The Best of Swim Across America Olympians (2019)

We appreciate the support of all the Olympians and special guests who have donated their time to support the SAA cause in 2019. These Olympians have attended our swims and special events generating awareness and raising donations for our beneficiaries. Thanks for all you do for SAA!


Camille Adams, Ricky Berens

Screen Shot 2019-10-17 at 3.46.39 PM


SWIM ACROSS AMERICA – Fairfield County

Cristina Teuscher and Craig Beardsley



Eric Wunderlich, Alex Meyer and Janel Jorgensen McArdle



Peter Vanderkaay and Chris Thompson



Hannah Aspden, Steve Gregg and Jenny Thompson


Tom Beeri, Dave Sims, Kat Simonovic and Sebastian Rousseau



Cristina Teuscher and Katie Meili

Screen Shot 2019-10-18 at 9.40.11 AM


Ryan Berube, Ryan Held and Mallory Comerford



      • Ashley Twichell,

    George DiCarlo, Haley Anderson, Kara Lynn Joyce, Lindsey Mintenko, Missy Franklin, Scott Usher, Susan von der Lippe


Craig Beardsley



Elizabeth Beisel

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 10.19.01 AM


Nathan Adrian, Mary Wayte Bradburne, Emily Silver


Theresa Andrews, McClain Hermes, Brenda Borgh Bartlett


Heather Petri, Dana Kirk, Ericka Lorenz, Kristy Kowal, Susan Heon-Preston, Staciana Stitts Winfield, Mike Bruner, John Moffet, Nicolle Payne,  Rada Owen, Ashley Whitney and Christine Magnuson


Lauren Perdue, Hannah Aspden, Karlee Bispo, Madison Kennedy


Missy Franklin, McClain Hermes, Steve Lundquist, Maritza Correia McClendon, Megan Neyer, Amanda Weir, Peter Wright, Nei-Kuan Chia,  Eric Wunderlich, Neil Versfeld, Andrew Gammell, Camille Adams, Paige Northcutt


Ryan Berube, Andrea Hayes Dickson and Jim Montgomery


Susan Heon-Preston, Kristy Kowal and Mike Bruner


Michael Phelps, Allison Schmidt, Craig Beardsley, Bob Bowman


SAA Family Tree is a monthly focus on stories that display the impact all the members of the Swim Across America family have both locally and nationally. If you have a story or link you’d like to share, please send here.


Swim Across America

Learn how to Swim to Save a Life. This Charity Raised Nearly $100 million to Directly Fund Therapies to Defeat Cancer. A Conversation with Swim Across America’s Rob Butcher and Board Chair Pam Ryan from Goldman Sachs


SAA – Richmond

  • SAA-Richmond Event Director Jay Peluso and Dr. Santiago Lima of VCU Massey Cancer Center promoted the swim on WTVR

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 11.10.43 AM

SAA – Atlanta

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 10.05.29 AM


SAA – Denver

  • Swim Across America CEO Rob Butcher and Team Captain Patty Waldron appeared on FOX 46

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 10.09.30 AM

SAA – San Francisco Bay

  • safe_image (1)

SAA – Baltimore

  • With yearly swim, Mt. Hebron High junior raises money for cancer research at Magothy River event (Baltimore Sun)

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 10.25.23 AM

  • Dr. Jonathan Webster of Johns Hopkins and Patient Ambassador Vanessa Brandon promoted Swim Across America on Midday Maryland

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 10.28.20 AM

SAA – Dallas

  • North Texas Swimmers Raise Money for Local Cancer Research (NBC DFW)Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 10.23.08 AM


  • Lake Ray Hubbard swim event helps raise money for cancer research (FOX 4 DFW)

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 10.31.19 AM


SAA – St. Louis

  • Swim Across America CEO Rob Butcher and champion swimmer Mallory Comerford promoted the upcoming swim on FOX 2!

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 11.01.08 AM

SAA – Catalina Relay Team

  • The six relay swimmers representing SAA crushed their 54-mile relay swim this September! It only took them 28 hours and they are now the 11th team EVER to complete this swim around Catalina Island! Not to mention they have raised over $60,000!

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 10.32.20 AM

SAA – Rhode Island

  • A Special Message on behalf of SAA -Rhode Island from Olympian Elizabeth Beisel and Providence College Coach John O’Neill

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 10.39.06 AM

Michael Phelps Gets Back in the Water

Like many others, Michael Phelps had a fear of the water as a young child. However, that didn’t deter Cathy Bennett from helping Michael develop comfort and confidence in the water. Now, as Bennett battles cancer for the second time, Phelps is diving into the water again to headline a Swim Across America charity event on Wednesday, Aug. 28, to honor his good friend with proceeds from the charity swim to benefit cancer research.

MP & CBBennett, whom Phelps affectionately refers to as Ms. Cathy, is the Program Director of the Michael Phelps Foundation where she oversees the Foundation’s signature program – IM – which provides learn-to-swim, recreational aquatic activities, organized swim instruction, as well as health, wellness, and goal-setting programming.

“Ms. Cathy and her family mean so much to me, my family, the Foundation, and countless others in the swimming community and I wanted to honor her with this charity swim,” said Phelps. “Ms. Cathy has never been one to seek any kind of attention, but raising awareness with Swim Across America to benefit cancer research will hopefully help find a cure for all forms of cancer.”

Phelps, the most decorated swimmer in World Championships history and 28-time Olympic medalist, retired from competitive swimming in 2016. The proceeds from the charity swim will benefit the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.

Since 1987, Swim Across America has granted nearly $100 million to fund cancer research at Johns Hopkins, Memorial Sloan Kettering, MD Anderson and other institutions.

When:  Wednesday, August 28, 5pm to 7pm
Where:  Kino Aquatic Center in Mesa, Arizona
Register:  The charity swim is limited to 50 participants. Each participant must donate or raise a minimum of $1,000
Website:  swimacrossamerica.org/SAAPhelpsSwim

Notable Attendees:  Dr. Bill Nelson chief of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, three-time Olympian Allison Schmitt (2008, 2012, 2016), 2016 Olympic head coach and Arizona State University head coach Bob Bowman, and members of the ASU swim team are anticipated to attend the charity swim as we celebrate Cathy.

Media Requests:  Michael and Cathy will be available on Aug. 28th from 7-7:15pm to speak with media in a group format. All media will need to be credential. Requests can be made to:

Allison Moore
E-mail: moore.pr@gmail.com 
Phone: (941) 961-3708