Swim Across America

Celebrating 30 years of raising local funds for cancer research, prevention and treatment, Swim Across America (SAA) hosts swim-related events and open water swims coast-to-coast, and is returning for their 5th annual Atlanta Open Water Swim at Lake Lanier on September 23, 2017.  What began as a one-time event in Nantucket in 1987 has evolved into over 100 annual events and 15 open water swims towards this ever-so important cause.

Just five years young, the Atlanta Swim has already raised $1.25 million and has grown into one of the organization’s top swim events in fundraising and attendance joining ranks with SAA’s San Francisco Bay Swim, Long Island Sound Swim, Boston Harbour Swim and Baltimore Swim. In Atlanta, the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is the beneficiary of SAA’s spirited teams and their fundraising efforts.

Over 40 SAA swim teams are diving into fundraising this summer as they prepare for SAA’s Open Water Swim by hosting neighborhood fundraising events and local swim clinics in hopes that their efforts will top their 5th anniversary $500,000 goal. Many sponsors, like presenting sponsors Accenture and Cisco, have formed teams honoring loved ones and have been instrumental in filling volunteer roles and hosting patient art parties at Aflac Cancer Center.

Should you choose to dive in, there are numerous ways to get involved and see the impact of funding clinical research trials.

“Ongoing research is so critical in providing hope for future treatments,” says Dr. Douglas Graham, Director of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “SAA is instrumental in funding preclinical research and early stage oncology clinical trials, and that support helps researchers bring new treatments to children with cancer.”

Over 22 high school students from 12 different schools are working on SAA’s Junior Advisory Board, in tandem with an accomplished adult volunteer board that includes Olympians and master swimmers. These student swimmers are busy hosting spirit nights at local restaurants and parties at summer league pools. If you are interested in honing your skills at an upcoming SAA Swim Clinic or Open Water Prep Clinic at Lake Allatoona, Marist School Aquatic Center or Lake Lanier, you can contact ebhaas98@gmail.com to register.

Lauren Ford, vice president of Membership on the Senior Board, knows that the hard work she’s putting in truly has affected those battling cancer.

“It’s really awesome to be together with my peers, friends and family and raise money for something so important,” Ford says. “I know that the treatments for these patients have come from our fundraising, and it’s nice to know that it really is helping.”

Swim Across America also provides an outlet for swimmers to travel while raising money for cancer research. Atlanta Event Director Megan Melgaard will travel from Atlanta with Team Swim Across America in June to Grand Cayman, across the Catalina Channel, and across America back to Atlanta.

“I’ve turned my passion for swimming into a lifelong mission, and it touches my heart to see the faces of enjoyment from survivors and people swimming at our events,” Melgaard says. “So many of us have been touched by cancer, like my forever-hero in my grandfather and my parents, and it’s amazing to have such an impact and make waves in the fight against cancer.”

The Swim Across America Atlanta Open Water Swim at Lake Lanier on September 23 offers swimmers the option to partake individually or join a team, while fundraising for the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Distances include a half-mile, one-mile, 5K, two-mile relay swim, or a Duck Splash for less confident swimmers.

Also new, customize a fundraiser at your local community pool with SAA or support a neighborhood team by donating online at SwimAcrossAmerica.org/atlanta.