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

Swim Across America Receives Additional $2 Million Donation from Merck to Accelerate Cancer Research

July 31, 2019— Swim Across America announces that Merck is making a $2 million charitable contribution to the non-profit. Merck’s support of Swim Across America now totals $5 million including a $3 million charitable donation announced in 2017. The contributions allow Swim Across America to further expand its charity swim program to raise more funds for cancer research.

For more than three decades, Swim Across America has been funding immunotherapy research and clinical trials, and Swim Across America’s grants have played a major role in bringing new treatments for those fighting cancer. In 2018, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded for work in advancing immunotherapy. The Swim Across America Research Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering has been part of the collaboration that lead to the development of immunotherapy.

“Everyone wants to hear the three words ‘I love you’,” commented Rob Butcher, Swim Across America CEO. “No one wants to hear the three words ‘you have cancer’, but if you do, you want to hear these three words ‘there is hope.’ And for three decades, Swim Across America’s charity program has provided an opportunity for survivors, caregivers and loved ones to get involved, feel empowered and provided hope. Merck’s contributions will allow us to grow our charity swims into more communities to support even more oncology research.”

TeamMerck-SAA LowResImage
Volunteering is the new happy hour. Merck employees celebrate a $2 million donation to Swim Across America to create more charity swims that will fund cancer research.

“Hundreds of Merck employees and their families have proudly supported Swim Across America, participating in charity swims, raising funds, and volunteering as Team Merck across the country,” said Jill DeSimone, SVP, oncology, Merck. “We’re thrilled to continue our support by providing additional funds to help Swim Across America create more opportunities for cancer researchers to fight this deadly disease.”

Swim Across America hosts 20 signature charity swims in communities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. In each community, the charity swim is partnered with a local cancer hospital. The proceeds from each charity swim—typically in the $200-500K range—are then granted to fund cancer research and clinical trials at the hospital so oncologists can pioneer new advances.

More than 100 Olympians have donated their time to Swim Across America and more than 25,000 participants (youth, adult, survivors, caregivers) support Swim Across America charity swims each year. Participant donations and corporate philanthropic partners have helped Swim Across America grow to nearly $10 million annually to fight cancer.

Behind the Scenes: Swim Across America Times Square PSA with Clear Channel Outdoor

image1-6Background: Clear Channel Outdoor teamed up with Swim Across America for a #MakingWavesToFightCancer public service campaign that placed SAA digital messaging in eight markets including Times Square in New York City. The digital PSA promotes SAA charity swims in each market. Thanks to the Clear Channel Outdoor team for supporting the Swim Across America mission on the largest scale! You can read about more about the partnership here.

Times Square Details: The 15-second ad cycles for 5 minutes every hour from July 15th – August 4th, 2019.

The two screens stand 100 feet tall combined  –  55′ H x 31′ W and 44′ H x 44′ W to precise on the dimensions. The location is adjacent to Duffy Square and the TKTS on Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets.

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 3.26.16 PM

Creative Team: Swim Across America Director of Marketing Ryan Baucom led the team project with the creative talents of brand designer Miriam Weiskind (mdoubleu) and Swim Across America Digital Media Intern Hannah Aspden.



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.


SAA – Baltimore

SAA – Denver

SAA – Boston

SAA – Nantucket

  • Celebrate Our Impact event at Nantucket Cottage Hospital

    SAA – Fairfield County

    • Greenwich shows support for Swim Across America Fairfield County (Greenwich Time)

    • Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 1.30.30 PM



Swim Across America Wins Healthiest Employer Award in Charlotte

Swim Across America was recognized at the 2019 Charlotte Business Journal Healthiest Employers Awards and made the podium the small business category. The program honors local companies with outstanding health and wellness initiatives that are committed to creating a healthy workplace and making wellness a priority and proactively shaping the health of their employees.

The national team also set up a recruiting booth at the Expo for SAA – Charlotte at the Expo.


Swim Across America Earns Coveted 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator


Transparency, accountability and financial health. Charity Navigator is a non-profit watchdog and has certified Swim Across America with 4-stars, the highest possible rating. We are thankful to all participants, volunteers, sponsors and donors for your ongoing trust and support of the Swim Across America mission. Learn more about how SAA received four stars here: http://bit.ly/SAACharityNavigator.

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 11.24.37 AM



SAA-Houston Event Director Mark Barr Wins an ESPY Award

Swim Across America – Houston Event Director and Paralympian Mark Barr has been awarded the 2019 ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.

“Thank you Swim Across America and to everyone who voted,” Barr said. “Could not have won without your votes!” Read why Mark is such an inspiring leader in Houston and a great ambassador for Swim Across America.