2nd Annual Jim Whelan Open Water Festival

Sun August 9, 2020 Atlantic City, NJ US 08401 Directions

55th Annual Around the Island Marathon - INDIVIDUAL

$1,000 6:00AM EDT - 7:00PM EDT
15 spots left. Registration ends May 15, 2020 at 11:59pm EDT

55th Annual Around the Island Marathon - BEACH PATROL RELAYS

$1,000 6:00AM EDT - 7:00PM EDT
8 spots left. Registration ends May 15, 2020 at 11:59pm EDT

55th Annual Around the Island Marathon - RELAY (NON-Lifeguard)

$1,500 6:00AM EDT - 7:00PM EDT
8 spots left. Registration ends May 15, 2020 at 11:59pm EDT
Race Website

Additional race information can be found at http://greenwhales.org.


The 2nd Annual Jim Whelan Open Water Festival is bringing the 55th Annual Around the Island Marathon (22.75 miles) to Atlantic City, NJ hosted by Green Whales, Inc. In 2019, the inaugural Jim Whelan Open Water Festival successfully resurrected this historic swim for its 54th installment in honor of the late Jim Whelan; a former NJ State Senator, Mayor of Atlantic City, member of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, Atlantic City teacher, and Atlantic City High School Swim Coach. 

The Around the Island Marathon current record holder, as documented on marathonswimmers.org, remains Stéphane Gomez, from France, set in 2004 with a time of 6:37.09. The winners from 2019 were:

  • First male and overall winner: William “Bill” Leonard, from Canada, at 8:23:27
  • First relay: Swim RVA Hammerheads, Steven “Craig” Dunbar and Teresa “Tess” Andres from the United States, at 9:29:56
  • First female: Charlotte Brynn, from the United States, finishing at 9:31:28

The 55th Around the Island Marathon will bring a $10,500 purse to its participants with additional prizes based on mileage and egress points.

  • 1st Male Finisher: $2000
  • 1st Female Finisher: $2000
  • 1st Relay Team Finisher: $3000
  • 2nd Male Finisher: $1000
  • 2nd Female Finisher: $1000
  • 2nd Relay Team Finisher: $1500

We are so blessed to be working with the cities of Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate, and Longport, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Police and countless NJ Beach Patrols. Through our efforts, those of our partners, and the support of our sponsors we opened the community’s eyes to two important aspects of this race:

  • The Whelan Whales program; free swimming lessons and water safety to the children of Atlantic City. 
  • The historical significance of this race to the community and generations of lifeguard families.

This festival is a great time to get the whole family involved, introduce the love of open water racing to youngsters and see some great swimmers compete in this legendary event.

All proceeds and fundraising from the festival will help support Green Whales, Inc. and the Atlantic County youth in their swimming and water safety success!

Race Contact Info

If you have any questions about this race, click the button below.

Race Location, Event/Format, and Map

Race Location

The 55th Around the Island Marathon will start and finish at the Atlantic City High School Boat House 3401 Fairmount Avenue Atlantic City, NJ 08401. Packet pick-up/pre-race meeting and the awards party will be at the same location.

Distance & Description

22 75 miles (36.62 km) marathon swim, starting at the ACHS Boat House swimming north, finishing at the ACHS Boat House. 

Course Description

This is an open water swim festival; the current, tide, and wave conditions are unpredictable; please use good judgment if you are uncertain about swimming in rough water. The water temperature is expected to be in the range of 70 - 79°F.

The details of the marathon with landmarks are provided in the race map(s). Any questions about the course will be addressed at the pre-race meeting by the Race Referee.

The event will go on as planned regardless of rain. In the event of extreme weather the race committee will make a decision on whether the race will go on as planned. The event website will be updated by 5 AM the morning of the race.

Wetsuit Policy

Not permitted


Warmups will be available on Friday, August 7, 2020 and Saturday, August 8, 2020 at the Brigantine Aquatic Center 3118 Bayshore Avenue, Brigantine, NJ 08203 during member’s hours. Warmups will be available at any guard Atlantic City Beach on Saturday, August 8, 2020; please abide by all postings and lifeguards on the Atlantic City Beach. It is recommended to talk to the lifeguards about going beyond the designated flags. Sunday warmups can be done in the bay prior to the start of the race, provided they do not interfere with the setup of the event. Once the event has been started, no warmups can be done in the bay.


One electronic watch with printout will be used. The finish will be videotaped and still photography will be taken of each swimmer as they cross the finish line.


On street parking and at the Brighton Avenue School; 30 N Brighton Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401. The Brighton Avenue School is a few blocks from the Atlantic City High School Boat House.


Tropicana Hotel & Casino Brighton Avenue & the Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401. Registration link: http://tropac3.net/offercode/HWHLN20

Local Medical Facility

The local hospital, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center – City Division, is located 1.5 miles and 8 minutes away from the Atlantic City Boat House.


Light refreshments will be available in the morning. A full dinner will be provided starting at 4:30 PM and will be available through the Awards Party.

Race Map


Around the Island Rules

Pre-race Meetings

All participants must attend the mandatory pre-race meetings on the evening of Saturday, August 8, 2020 and the morning of Sunday, August 9, 2020.  

Tow-rest Float

All swimmers must use the mandatory tow-rest float. This includes all members of a relay team.

Food & Drink

All swimmers are permitted to have food and drink on their designated boat; this is at the swimmer’s expense. All provisions will be given to the swimmer’s representative before the pre-race meeting (or earlier).

Relay Swimmers - Swim Time

Relay swimmers will swim a minimum of 1 hour per swimmer and may switch as needed after that hour in the approved swimmer order. Last chance to change the order of relay swimmers will be at the mandatory Saturday evening meeting.

Toes/Finger, Jewelry, & Watches

For safety reasons finger/toe nails must be clipped and no jewelry is allowed with the exception of post earrings and watches.  Post earrings will be permitted if they are completely under the athlete’s cap; no hoop earrings will be permitted.

Facility Rules

No on beach changing into or out of swimsuits is allowed.

Safety Weather Plan

If weather conditions during the race are such that the Race Director, Race Referee, Host Team Representative, Independent Safety Monitor, Head of Beach Patrol/Lifeguards determine that the event should be abandoned, an air horn will be used to signal cancellation and each safety boat will be radioed the cancellation decision. Lifeguards, volunteers, and crafts/boats will then round up the swimmers and head them to shore or pick them up and bring them to shore. No course buoys will be picked up until all athletes have safely reached the shore. In the pre-race meeting athletes will be instructed to look for the nearest safety personnel when they hear the abandonment signal. The abandonment signal is five short blasts followed by one prolonged blast of air horns or whistles. This signal will be repeated every minute until the course is cleared of all athletes.


As the athletes finish their event their number will be recorded and they will be photographed/videoed crossing the finish line. The total numbers of athletes will be tallied at the finish line and radioed to all parties. A list of athletes by number will be provided to the Command Center, Emergency Crafts/Boats, and Officials.

Medical Tent

As each athlete exits the water, they will be taken to the medical tent by a Green Whales Representative to have their vitals check.



Entries open January 15, 2020 and will remain open through May 15, 2020 or once the athlete capacity has been reached; whichever is first.

All Team Captains are requested to provide names and email addresses for each team member during registration. Each team member will be sent a registration code for the specific team.

All applicants (individual or relay) must provide a swim resume, within two weeks of their registration in order to meet the next Selection Committee Meeting. All swim resumes must be signed by a Certified Coach, Beach Patrol Captain, or Race Director that has witnessed you complete a minimum of a 6 hour swim. A certified letter from your physician will be required as well. By signing this document the individual confirms that the swimmer(s) is(are) capable of swimming this historical Open Water event. The swim resume and physical confirmation shall be emailed to USAS.MEETDIRECTOR@GMAIL.COM. The registrant will be reminded to complete this during the registration process. A hard copy of the swim resume can be found on the website in PDF fillable form format and in this meet announcement.

All athletes 17 or under must be accompanied by an adult through the race day check-in process.


This open water swim is open to all 16 & over athletes. Athletes must be:

  • 18 or older to swim as an individual, and
  • 16 or older to swim on a relay team. 
  • 16 or older to swim on a Beach Patrol relay team. 

All Beach Patrol relay teams must provide certification from their municipality that they are part of that municipalities Beach Patrol.

Swimmer Capacity

This open water swim has a capacity of 16 individual athletes and 8 relay teams.

There are two types of relay teams: Beach Patrol and Non Beach Patrol. Non Beach Patrol relay teams will be referred to as “Relay Team”.

All relay teams types can be made up of 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 athletes. Each athlete will swim for one hour. The order of swimmers will be provided one week prior to the event and cannot be changed.

There will be a maximum of 24 athletes in the water at one time.

Waiting List

In the event that a race fills, a waiting list will be maintained. The next person or team on the waiting list will be contacted and given 24 hours to sign up if a spot becomes available. Waiting list contacts will begin on March 20, 2020 or when the race fills up. In the event of a waiting list registration, the swim resume must be submitted within one week of their registration.

Fees & Fundraising

The race fees are as follows:

  • Individuals: $1000
  • Relay Teams: $1500
  • Beach Patrol Relay Teams: $1000*

All fees include 1:1 Lifeguard to Swimmer, 1:3 Power Boat to Swimmer, 1:1  Power Boat to Relay Team, swag, a commemorative cap, and $400 in hotel discounts. * Beach Patrol Relay teams will be responsible for providing their own lifeguard.

Fundraising in available through our website for all participants and is encouraged. Each participant can set up their own fundraising page. If the participants entry fee is reached via fundraising a refund will be given to the participant. All funds will go directly to Green Whales, Inc.

Each participant can earn the following prizes by fundraising:

  • Participant raises $1500 they receive a JWOWF Speedo Jacket
  • Participant raises $1750 they receive a JWOWF Backpack & Jacket
  • Participant raises $2000 they receive a JWOWF Parka, Backpack & Jacket

Want to know where your donations go...

    • Sponsor a child in the Whelan's Whales program.
    • Sponsor a graduated Whelan's Whale on the swim team.
    • Sponsor a special needs athlete in a water safety program.
    • Purchase equipment for the Whelan's Whales and Special Needs programs.
Cancellation & Refund Policy

In the unfortunate case you need to cancel, a refund will be given minus 30% up to May 1st.. After May 1, 2020, no refunds will be given.

In the unfortunate we must cancel due to weather on the day of the event, athletes will be given a coupon for 50% next year’s event.

The Race Referee, City of Atlantic City Office of Emergency Management, and Independent Safety Monitor, in conjunction with the Race Director, reserve the right to cancel this event if conditions are unsafe.

Caps, Tow-Rest Float, Markings, & GPS Tracking


Caps can be worn at the discretion of the athlete.

Tow-Rest Float

A tow-rest float is required for each athlete. This can be purchased during the registration process or by the athlete separately. The tow-rest float is expected to be used throughout the event to aid the swimmer and to help with visibility of the swimmer.


All swimmers will be marked using open water temporary number tattoos as follows by the Festival Personnel with their Competition Number: Vertically down each arm and horizontally across each shoulder.All swimmers will be marked at the mandatory pre-race meeting on Saturday, August 8, 2020. All swimmers will be checked on the morning of the race.

GPS Tracking

All boats will have GPS tracking.

Swag and Awards & Prizes


Each athlete will receive the following swag for participating in the event:

  • Commemorative Silicone Cap
  • Shirts will be provided to all registrants
  • Pre-race meeting/dinner for all registrants on Saturday
  • Awards Dinner for all registrants on Sunday

Awards & Prizes

The 55th Around the Island Marathon will bring a $10,500 purse to its participants with additional prizes based on mileage and egress points.

  • 1st Male Finisher: $2000
  • 1st Female Finisher: $2000
  • 1st Relay Team Finisher: $3000
  • 2nd Male Finisher: $1000
  • 2nd Female Finisher: $1000
  • 2nd Relay Team Finisher: $1500

All participants will receive a race medal. Awards will be handed out at the Awards Party at 7:30 PM.

Event Schedule
01/15/20 12:00 AM Registration opens and fundraising BEGINS. Swim resumes must be received via email within one week of the applicant’s registration. Physical signature required on swim resume.
02/15/20   Selection committee convenes and contacts all swimmers. Additional meetings as required: 03/14/20, 04/11/20, and 05/16/20.
03/20/20 6:00 AM Waiting List Contacts BEGIN.
05/15/20 11:59 PM Registration ENDS. If necessary, Selection committee convenes and contacts all swimmers.
08/09/20 6:00/6:30 AM Race Day check-in. Mandatory pre-race meeting.
08/09/20 8:00 AM 55th Around the Island Marathon starts.
08/09/20 7:00 PM All athletes must be completed or will be pulled from the event.
08/09/20 ~7:30 PM Awards party/dinner.
If I wear a wetsuit am I still eligible for awards, prizes, and GSS points? Wetsuits are not permitted.
Do you know what the predicted water temperature would be? The water temperature is expected to be in the range of 70 - 79°F at that time of the year.
Is the 11 hour cutoff strict? The cut off time will be adhered to within reason. If the swimmer is very close to finishing, within a mile, at the 11 hour mark they will be permitted to finish.

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