How to Run a Swim-a-Thon Fundraiser

Swim-a-thons are extremely effective fundraisers since they benefit both your school and the participants. Swimmers get to stay active while supporting a good cause, whether it’s their school, extra-curricular, or club.

This page outlines the A-Z of swim-a-thons, including planning, tracking donations, and tips for organizing and promoting the fundraiser.

teachers raising money through a swim a thon

Swim-a-Thon Guide

Table of Contents

pta officer planning a swim a thon

Swim-a-Thon 101

A quick introduction to what a swim-a-thon is and how it works.

what is a read-a-thon

What is an "A-Thon" & How Does it Work?

An “a-thon” can be a powerful fundraising tool (and a lot of fun, too!)

what do you need to run a read-a-thon?

What Do You Need to Run a Swim-a-Thon?

Learn what it takes to run a successful swim-a-thon.

using a read-a-thon to fundraise

Using a Swim-a-Thon to Fundraise

How to raise money with swim-a-thons.

read-a-thon tools and resources

Swim-a-Thon Templates, Tools, & Resources

See how FutureFund makes managing swim-a-thon pledges effortless.

read-a-thon theme ideas

Swim-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Feel inspired with our swim-a-thon theme examples.

pta officer planning a swim a thon

Start Your Swim-a-Thon With FutureFund

Our integrated pledge campaign fundraising tool allows you to collect donations (via cash, debit, or credit) and easily manage fundraising progress. Get started for free.

Swim-a-Thon 101: A Quick Guide

What is a Swim-a-Thon?

A swim-a-thon is a straightforward type of a-thon. It works similarly to any running fundraising event, except you’re swimming instead of running.

For PTAs, they’re simple organize, since all you need is a pool or body of water. For participants, they’re a bit more original than standard walk-a-thons or jog-a-thons.

Swim-a-Thon FAQ

How does a swim-a-thon work?

Like other types of a-thon fundraisers, swim-a-thons use a peer-to-peer fundraising model. Participants sign up for the swim-a-thon and ask their friends, family, and coworkers (or their parents’ coworkers) for support through donations.

Each swimmer participates in the swim-a-thon in exchange for the donations. The swim-a-thon itself is a set amount of swimming, either laps in a pool or a set distance in a body of water.

How long is a swim-a-thon?

Swim-a-thons are extremely customizable, which is one of the great things about them. You can choose the date, distance, theme, and more.

When choosing the distance, you’ll want to think about who is participating. An elementary school fundraiser, for example, should be on the shorter side. For a junior high or high school, you can make the distance longer.

When should you hold a swim-a-thon?

Swim-a-thons work for any time of year. In the colder months, you can hold them inside at a local pool. In the warmer months, you can hold them outside at a lake, pond, or ocean.

What do people need to participate?

Swim-a-thons require that participants be strong swimmers. That said, you can customize the distance and make it as easy or as hard as you like.To make the tournament as fair as possible, you should create some general rules for teams. Some factors to consider include:

  • Number of players
  • Age
  • Gender

For example, if the teams are open to all ages, you should make sure every team has a similar amount of children. So you can make a rule saying each team needs at least 2 players age 12 or under.

Are swim-a-thons good fundraisers?

Swim-a-thons make great fundraisers. They’re relatively easy to plan while being an original fundraiser idea.

What is an "A Thon"?

what is a read-a-thon?

A Thon's Are Fun & Effective Event-Based Fundraisers

An “a-thon” is a peer-to-peer style fundraiser that involves participating in a certain activity and gathering donations for participating in said activity.

The activity can be almost anything, from reading to running to bowling. No matter what activity you choose, the premise is the same. Participants commit to doing the activity (reading a certain amount of books, running a certain distance) and ask their friends, family, and coworkers to support them.

A-thons work great because you reach a huge donor pool through peer-to-peer fundraising. People are also more likely to donate since participants are “working” in return for the donations.

What Do You Need to Run a Swim-a-Thon?

Community raising money for school

Use FutureFund to Power It

FutureFund’s built-in pledge campaigns allow you to easily collect money and keep donations organized. Since parents cover payment processing fees, 100% of the funds raised go to your school!

Easy for Everyone

Any good fundraiser needs to be easy to plan, participate in, and most importantly, get donations. FutureFund makes planning and running a swim-a-thon as easy as possible.

Donate Online

Instead of dealing with paper pledge forms and cash and cheques, take the process online. Donors can donate instantly online with their credit or debit cards.


Always know how the fundraiser is going. Easily view how much money has been raised and more with detailed reporting.

Using a Swim-a-Thon for Fundraising

Managing & Organizing Pledges

Each student will sign up as a participant in the fundraiser. Then, they can collect pledges individually by credit or debit card. These pledges will be recorded in FutureFund and will count towards the student’s total and the grand total for the fundraiser.

Paperwork & Donor Payment Management

It’s easy for students to sign up, especially if their information is already in the system. You can bulk sign up entire grades or classes.

All donor payments are automatically entered into the system, so you can instantly see each student’s total and the grand total.

Using FutureFund to Accept Online Donations

Donors don’t need to have cash or a checkbook handy to donate. They can easily donate through an emailable donation link and pay by credit or debit card. Any cash donations can also be noted in the system to be collected later.

using future fund for fundraising
goals and rules

Swim-a-Thon Goals & Rules


The main thing you have to plan for a swim-a-thon is the length or your route. Consider how accessible you want the event to be. 

Typically, the shorter the distance, the more people who will be able to participate. You can make your swim-a-thon anywhere from 25 yards to 250 yards, which is 1 to 10 pool laps in most community pools.

Swimming Goal

Your swim-a-thon will have a pre-determined length, so the swimming goal for participants should be to complete the distance or number of laps.

Other Considerations

If you want the swim-a-thon to be open to more people, you can allow participants to use swim aids. This can include things like floaties, flippers, and flutter boards.

Recommended Starting Rules

Follow these steps for a successful swim-a-thon:

Before you start telling students and parents about the swim-a-thon, you should decide the following:

  • Length
  • Location
  • Date
  • Theme

Hold the swim-a-thon on a weekend, either Saturday on Sunday.

Because swim-a-thons work best on the weekend, tell people about the fundraiser at least 1 month in advance, so they can add it to their schedule.

Choose a distance between 1 and 10 laps.

Give participants ample time to complete the swim. If you’re using a pool, you’ll need to plan swim times for each participant.

Swim-a-Thon Templates & Resources

read a thon templates
sample read-a-thon rules

Sample Swim-a-Thon Rules

These rules are a great starting point for organizing your swim-a-thon.

sample read-a-thon description

Sample Swim-a-Thon Event Description

Unsure of where to start? Use this sample student and parent messaging to get the ball rolling!

online pledges w/ futurefund

Set Up Online Pledges With FutureFund

Let parents and supporters donate online with FutureFund’s online pledges. Try it out for free!

Swim-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Sea Animals

You can’t go wrong with a sea animals theme for a swim-a-thon. Participants can dress up as their favorite aquatic animals like fish, dolphins, or sharks.

Fantasy Creatures

For a fantasy theme, participants can dress up as fantasy sea creatures. Mermaids, Poseidon, The Kraken, and more.


You can do a swim-a-thon at any time of year and match it with upcoming holidays. In the fall, for example, you can do a zombie or monster swim for Halloween.


Swimming is one of the most popular events in the summer Olympics. For this theme, swimmers can dress up as Olympians and represent their country.

Wacky Tacky

For this theme, anything goes! Get participants to add the wackiest, tackiest, and craziest accessories to their swimsuits.

Find Other Fundraiser
Ideas & Guides

How to Run a Jump-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Jump-a-Thon Fundraiser

Jump-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money while also being active. See how a jump-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our in-depth guide.

How to Run a Spell-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Spell-a-Thon Fundraiser

Spell-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money while also practicing academics. See how a spell-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one here.

How to Run a Math-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Math-a-Thon Fundraiser

Math-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money while also practicing academics. See how a math-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our guide.