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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 54thinstallment 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


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!    

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Postponed Until 2021


Dear Friends of the Jim Whelan Open Water Festival and Around The Island™ Swim,


Completing a 22.75 mile marathon open water swim requires continued discipline and rigorous training. However, maintaining the critical aerobic endurance in the months leading up to the event in August of this year is posing a challenging to our athletes due to extended COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Many activities that are part of training, such as swimming at aquatic centers and going to the gym, face an indefinite uncertainty.


As the length of time public health guidelines continue to be extended, difficult decisions need to be made with regards to large-scale events. And as responsible event organizers, the health, safety, and wellbeing of our athletes, volunteers, and spectators needs to be at the forefront of every decision made. 


With this in mind, the planning committee has unanimously voted to postpone the 2nd Annual Jim Whelan Open Water Festival, featuring the 55th Around The Island™ Swim, until 2021. 


We are already working with the City of Atlantic City to secure a new date which we hope to communicate soon. For more specific information how this postponement affects you, please read our detailed letters for athletes & coaches, sponsors, and the general public. Of course, any additional questions can be sent to jwopenwater@gmail.com


Thank you for your support and enthusiasm towards the Jim Whelan Open Water Festival, the historic Around The Island™ Swim, and Green Whales, Inc.  Please continue to follow our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds—and visit jwopenwater.org for updates along the way!

Festival Personnel

RACE LOCATION, event & format

Around the Island Marathon rules

entries, Eligibility, swimmer capacity, & waiting list

fees, fundraising requirements & Refunds

Caps, Tow-rest float, markings, & GPS Tracking

SWAG, AWARDS & PRIZES

event schedule

FAQs