Young Teen Recognizes Swim Across America’s Impact Within His Home

Owen Johnson

Swim Across America – Charleston-Kiawah

Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

3 years supporting Swim Across America

Age: 13

Owen Johnson is just 13 years old, and he already recognizes the impact funds raised at a Swim Across America charity swim have on patients and families.

“My dad, Brad Johnson, was diagnosed with stage four head and neck cancer before I was born. He survived because of new medicines discovered by cancer researchers, like the ones funded by Swim Across America.”

In 2020, the then-11-year-old swimmer had the idea to give his dad an unforgettable Christmas present. Instead of exchanging gifts, Owen set up a GoFundMe in honor of his dad’s fight against cancer. Owen raised over $2,000 and since then, has raised another $4,000 through his participation in the Swim Across America – Charleston-Kiawah events.

“I know Swim Across America gives money directly to researchers. My dad was the Event Director for Swim Across America – Charleston-Kiawah for a few years, and Swim Across America gives grants to cancer researchers at Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston where we live.”

This year, Owen and Brad will swim together at the Swim Across America – Charleston-Kiawah event on June 10. They are also celebrating a remarkable milestone. Brad has been cancer-free for 20 years.

“To celebrate 20 years and all the things my dad has accomplished since beating cancer – Ironman events, marathons, Triathlon World Championships, having a family – we are teaming up to raise $20,000 for the 2023 Swim Across America – Charleston-Kiawah event.”

“I hope that by raising money for Swim Across America, donations will help researchers get the funding they need to help more people like my dad.”

Swim Across America has raised $100 million since its inception in 1987 to support cancer research and clinical trials across the U.S. Please contact Jeni Howard at for media inquiries.

Cancer Survivor Inspired to Help Establish SAA-Florida Keys Event

Glenn Latham

Swim Across America – Florida Keys

Hometown: Islamorada, Florida

2 years supporting Swim Across America

Age: 68

“Both my parents, two of my three siblings, and I have all battled cancer. Fortunately, due to lots of prayer, family support and modern technology, I am in remission and celebrating 11 years cancer-free.”

And thanks to a chance meeting with a Swim Across America Board Member, Glenn and his wife, Susan, are now dedicated to bringing hope to families fighting cancer.

As a cancer survivor, Glenn was involved with different charities prior to moving to the Keys. Glenn’s love of swimming led to that chance encounter with a Board Member who shared the story of Swim Across America and our mission to fund innovative cancer research.

“My wife and I were immediately interested, and together we decided to organize the first SAA event in the Florida Keys. Our inaugural event in 2022 was a huge success, and the community involvement was amazing.”

The two Islamorada residents are Co-Event Directors for the second annual Swim Across America – Florida Keys event on April 15 benefitting Miami Cancer Institute.

“Being involved with Swim Across America has been a wonderful experience. I hope to continue to help with our own event and attend other swims. I believe we need to expand cancer research, and the funding that Swim Across America generates is of huge value.”

“It is particularly gratifying meeting and working with key members of the local medical research institution, Swim Across America staff, Olympians and local community supporters.” 

Swim Across America has raised $100 million since its inception in 1987 to support cancer research and clinical trials across the U.S. Please contact Jeni Howard at for media inquiries.

SAA Debuts WaveMaker Hydro Flask Bottle for 2023

Swim Across America is excited to celebrate our top fundraisers with the 2023 WaveMaker gift! Swimmers and volunteers who raise $1,000 or more will receive an insulated 32 oz Wide-Mouth Hydro Flask water bottle.

As part of the WaveMaker club, we want you to show your SAA pride year-round with a Hydro Flask perfect for any occasion. Ideal for everyday and outdoor adventure, the Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth vacuum water bottle packs 32 oz. of hydration, and keeps your beverage hot or cold for hours. Want to take this awesome item home with you? Register today and set your fundraising goal to WaveMaker!


Ways to Support Swim Across America Now That Amazon Smile Program Has Ended

We appreciate that many of our supporters designated Swim Across America to receive proceeds from purchases made through the AmazonSmile program. Through AmazonSmile, Swim Across America has been able to cover a portion of what it takes to provide a safe and enjoyable charity swim experience.

Amazon announced that on February 20, 2023 they are discontinuing the Smile program for all charities. This means purchases made through Amazon will not support SAA or any other charities after February 20.

Swim Across America still needs your support. With AmazonSmile ending, there are a few ways to continue to give to Swim Across America:

  • Add an extra $10 when you register for or make a donation to a charity swim.

  • Swim Across America accepts Donor Advised Funds, stock donations, and annuities. Email us if you would like to include us in your planned giving.

Find a full list of options on our Ways to Give page.

Thanks for giving hope and Making Waves to Fight Cancer with us.

FDA Advisory Committee Supports Expanding Clinical Trial Swim Across America Has Helped Fund

An immunotherapy clinical trial that Swim Across America provided grant funding has reached another milestone.

The Dr. Luis Diaz Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering began receiving grants from Swim Across America in 2017. SAA grant funding allowed Dr. Diaz and his colleague, Dr. Andrea Cercek, to meet patients and conduct immunotherapy research. With SAA grant support, the lab opened a clinical trial and recruited 14 patients with advanced rectal cancer. The patients qualified through genetic testing and were treated with a single dose of immunotherapy. The patients didn’t require surgery, chemo, or radiation–which was remarkable as traditional treatments often have a negative emotional, physical, and financial effect on the quality of life for patients and their families.

Dr. Luis Diaz and Dr. Andrea Cercek

All 14 patients responded with no evidence of disease. This is believed to be the first time a clinical trial has shown a 100% response rate. Read the full story here.

Recently, the FDA Advisory Committee supported expanding the clinical trial to more patients based on the data from the trial.

The Diaz/Cercek lab has focused on rectal cancer where standard treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. While these treatments might save a patient, they have significant quality-of-life effects and often present the need for ongoing care.

This trial is genetically dependent and focused on advanced rectal cancer. Dr. Diaz and Dr. Cercek envision the immunotherapy being offered to patients with other cancer types who meet the genetic profile. Proceeds from the Long Island Sound and Nassau/Suffolk – Sound to Cove charity swims continue to help fund the ongoing research and clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Swim Across America has a proven track record of identifying and funding early-stage ideas of promise. Swim Across America grants have played a major role in clinically developing FDA-approved immunotherapy treatments ipilimumab (YERVOY), nivolumab (OPDIVO), pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA), and atezolizumab (TECENTRIQ).


With grant support from Swim Across America–Charlotte, researchers at Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Children’s Hospital aim to make progress with the following projects. Since 2017, Swim Across America–Charlotte has awarded more than $750,000 to fund research and education programs at LCI.

Dr. Greg Knight

Grant Recipient: Greg Knight, M.D.

Project: How Distress and Psychologic Well-Being Affect Outcomes for Patients with Hematologic Malignancies

As the science of cancer treatment in the United States continues to accelerate and treatment becomes more personalized (and expensive), barriers to the implementation of optimal cancer care have been increasingly recognized as major determinants of outcomes. Evidence is emerging that psychosocial stress is impacting care. Such data have led to almost all major professional oncologic organizations, including ASCO, NCCN, and American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, recommending screening for stress as part of routine care. With funding from Swim Across America, Dr. Knight is leading a first of its kind study, exploring the impact of stress in hematologic malignancies, and examine how to alleviate these stressors to improve the outcomes for these patients.

Dr. Srinivasa Sanikommu

Grant Recipients: Srinivasa Sanikommu, M.D.; Lawrence Druhan, Ph.D.

Project: Effects of Vitamin C in Patients with Leukemia and Myelodysplasia

Vitamin C has long been postulated to have beneficial/and preventative effects in many diseases, but whether and/or how vitamin helps patients with blood cancers is unknown. We have seen in the laboratory that when vitamin C is added to some chemotherapy agents, there is inhibition of cancer cell growth. Thus, if vitamin C is deficient in some patients, it is possible that responses to therapy could be improved by addition of vitamin C. With funding from Swim Across America, Drs. Sanikommu and Druhan are studying how the addition of Vitamin C could improve the outcomes for patients with leukemia and blood cancers, and potentially even prevent the development of these diseases.

Dr. Brittany Ragon

Grant Recipient: Brittany Ragon, M.D

Project: Personalized Medicine for the Treatment of Leukemia

In leukemia care, the choice and dosing of therapy can be an empiric exercise; there are increasing data showing that best therapies and best dosing can be predicted using genetics. A new drug called venetoclax (ven) is now part of the standard treatment for upfront treatment in many patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Despite improvements in outcomes for AML patients with venetoclax, the real-world usage of ven is complex, and toxicities leading to dose modifications are common. Using funding from Swim Across America, Dr. Ragon is leading an innovative study to explore candidate gene changes as predictors of response to ventoclax-containing regimens to develop a personalized approach to patient care.

Grant Recipient: Yifan Pang, M.D.

Project: Immune System Functional Monitoring to Improve Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant

Dr. Yifan Pang

Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) can be the cure for many blood diseases. Including adults and children, more than 8,000 HSCTs are performed in the U.S. annually and more than 50,000 world-wide. The success of HSCT is dependent on the reconstitution of the immune system from transplanted cells, which is responsible for controlling infections, preventing transplant rejection, and prevention of disease recurrence. Current methods to monitor immune reconstitution are not good at measuring the global health of the immune system. Therefore, it is critical to identify a reliable marker to comprehensively measure post-HSCT immune reconstitution to prevent complications and improve outcomes. With funding from Swim Across America, Dr. Yifan Pang will lead a project aimed at the development of a novel method to measure immune reconstitution after HSCT using cutting-edge next generation sequences methods.

Dr. Mike Grunwald. Dr. Mike fundraises and swims. Every year.
Dr. Larry Druhan and his family. Dr. Larry fundraises and swims. Every year.


Swim Across America (SAA) is proud to announce a partnership with Gill, a leading marine apparel brand, for 2023. This year, each Community Champion will receive a SAA-branded Gill Aqua Parka. The Community Champion will be the top individual fundraiser in each city.

Waterproof, windproof and breathable, the Aqua Parka changing robe was engineered for explorers. The parka is intentionally oversized and designed to be loose enough for you to pull your arms inside for changing. It’s perfect for paddle sports and open water swimmers. Available in graphite, eggshell/ash and dark navy/blue jay.

About Swim Across America

Swim Across America, Inc. (SAA) is dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related events.

With the help of hundreds of volunteers nationwide and past and current Olympians, SAA is helping find a cure for cancer through athleticism, community outreach and direct service. To learn more visit or follow on Facebook @SwimAcrossAmerica or on Instagram or Twitter @SAASwim.

About Gill

Founded by a desire for better, Gill has been at the forefront of marine apparel for over 45 years. Creating the most technical sailing clothing to protect people from the elements while out on the water. Giving them the confidence to go anywhere, in any condition and accomplish their goals.

Water is what connects us to everything we do. From our beginnings as a brand, to the products we create. It’s always been about empowering people through engineered, technical clothing and equipment so they can experience moments and tell stories of their achievements. Gill’s love of all things water has led them to diversify their product offering in recent years to cater for broader water activities, such as SUP, canoeing, kayaking and open water swimming.


Here are some recent stories that display the impact all the members of the Swim Across America family have had in the Fairfield County community benefiting Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. If you would like to register, volunteer or donate, please visit




16th Annual Swim Across America Fairfield County on Saturday in Stamford


Darien-created Swim Across America will raise money for Stamford cancer center research Saturday


Redding Resident Craig Lawrence Is Diving Into Long Island Sound June 25th for His 16th Annual Swim Across America Fairfield County Open Water Swim


We Should All Strive to Make Waves…


June 25 is 16th Annual Swim Across America Fairfield County Swim


Here are some recent stories that display the impact all the members of the Swim Across America family have had in the Larchmont community benefiting Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center and Cancer Support Team. If you would like to register, volunteer or donate, please visit




A Little History: 30 Years of Swim Across America Long Island Sound


Swim Across America returns to Larchmont for 30th year


Chappaqua Swim & Tennis Raises $30K+ For Swim Across America


Swim Across America 2022


Swim Across America returns to Larchmont for 30th year



Record-Smashing 30th Year For Swim Across America LI Sound Fundraising


Here are some recent stories that display the impact all the members of the Swim Across America family have had in the Rhode Island community benefiting Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. If you would like to register, volunteer or donate, please visit




Hundreds Swimming For Cancer Research At Narragansett Beach


Swim Across America Sponsoring Rhode Island Open Water Swim


Swim Across America Rhode Island will make waves to fight cancer on September 10

Screen Shot 2022-12-20 at 12.12.19 PM


Swim Across America




Swim Across America Event Supports Cancer Research at Women & Infants Hospital


Local charity event raises money for cancer research



Swimming & Diving Teams Play Big Role In Successful Swim Across America Event


Huskies Take Part in the 13th Annual Swim Across America


Swimming And Diving Participates in Swim Across America