The Crazy Big Swim: Stroking Toward A Cure for Cancer


By Tori Caudill, Swimming World College Intern

Cancer is a word that no one wants to hear. It is also a word that has touched everyone’s life in one way or another. In one year alone, over 1 million new cases will be diagnosed in the United States. However, with all of the fundraising efforts sprouting up to fund research, such as dance marathons, 24-hour walks, and many similar events across the country, more and more people are becoming involved with the fight against cancer.

One of these organizations is Swim Across America (SAA), which uses the swimming community specifically to band together across the nation to fund research, treatment, and cancer prevention.

SAA was developed by Jeff Keith and Matt Vossler, who envisioned this non-profit as a sequel to their Run Across America in 1987. Since then the organization has grown to over 5,000 annual participants from all over the United States aging from as young as four years old to 78 years old. These swimmers come from all different backgrounds, recreational swimmers, masters swimmers, open water swimmers, Olympic athletes, and many more, uniting to support those in need through the love of a sport they share.

Since the first event in Massachusetts, SAA has raised over $60 million to aid various facilities related to cancer, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and many others.

SAA has drawn the attention of many Olympians over the years as well including titans like Rowdy Gaines, Summer Sanders, Chloe Sutton and Dara Torres.

According to the 2014 annual report, SAA raised over $6 million last year and had over 7,000 total participants. And the program is continuing to grow.

SAA partnered with TeamUnify this year to host “Crazy Big Swim,” the world’s largest virtual swim meet that allowed teams across the nation to raise money and participate in a large-scale event benefiting many research and treatment facilities specializing in childhood cancer. The only requirement– swimming a 50 yard freestyle. Over 3,000 swimmers participated in the meet, with a $25 entrance fee benefiting the cancer community. In total, the event raised $151,995 for these various organizations.

More than 25 teams raised over $1,000 for the cause, and 14 teams participated with at least 50 percent of their team, from Florida to Michigan, and California to Connecticut. Most of the participants were children, thus allowing kids to help other kids in the best way possible.

Getting involved with Crazy Big Swim is very easy, with registration open to coaches wishing to enter their teams in August.  After registration, the meet can be held from Labor day until the end of the year. Progress on this year’s Crazy Big Swim can be found on the twitter page @CrazyBigSwim, or on the Crazy Big Swim website.

There are many easy ways to get involved with this organization, and start making waves to fight cancer. Anyone can sign up and register or donate for an event of the SAA website, where there is a list of the events available along with locations across the United States. If there is no event in your area, it is also possible to start a new event with the SAA Guide.

Cancer has touched a member of almost every swim family across this nation, including swimmers themselves. By becoming a part of this organization and participating in the events held across the United States, kids can be a part of helping kids make waves to fight childhood cancer.

For more information about donations, events, and how to register visit Swim Across America‘s website.

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