Swim Across America returns to Mercer Island for fifth year on Sept. 7

For the fifth year, Mercer Island will be the host of the Seattle area’s Swim Across America event on Saturday, Sept. 7.

The event, which raises money for cancer research by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, features a swim from the Mercerwood Shore Club to Luther Burbank Park.

Swimmers can choose between the two-mile swim that starts at the Shore Club, or the half-mile swim that takes place at the park. The Kids Splash will take place after both longer swims finish.

Scott Whelan, a Mercer Island resident and co-chair of the event, said there are only a few small changes this year, mostly because they haven’t felt the need to mess with what has been a great event.

“The course is awesome in our minds,” said Whelan. “We think it’s the perfect community to run the event and the perfect location for it. A lot of other places throughout the nation that do this have taken bits and pieces that we do because of the venue and the event has been so great. It’s our fifth year, and we didn’t want to move it because we still feel it’s the ideal location.”

This year the after-party at Luther Burbank will feature a catered breakfast and band, along with visits by local Olympians Ariana Kukors, Mary Wayte Bradburn, Rick Colella, Emily Silver, Dana Kirk and Margaret Hoelzer.

“We have some different Olympians coming and we’re going to have a band this year,” said Whelan. “They are all cancer survivors and were treated at SCCA; many of them for the very things we’re trying to raise money for.”

The event, still a few weeks away, already has a lot of participants signed up.

“There is a lot of growth,” said Whelan. So far, Whelan said, 260 swimmers are registered and they are easily on pace to hit the $300,000 fundraising goal.

The registration fee is $50 for each adult swimmer, which applies to the minimum fundraising requirement of $300. Participants can form teams in honor of someone who is battling cancer or died from the disease. Last year, the open water swim in Lake Washington had 303 swimmers participate, with 165 volunteers, which helped to raise more than $235,000.

The SCCA brings together cancer-care programs from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s. Money from this year’s Swim Across American event will support research and treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer, along with research into the Cellular Therapy Laboratory.

To register or learn more about the event, visit

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