The Inaugural Jim Whelan Open Water Festival will be held on July 14, 2019 in Atlantic City, NJ by Green Whales Inc. to honor the late Jim Whelan and to support the Whelan’s Whales swim lesson and water safety program.  There will be several distances at the Festival, but the headline swim will be the historic “Around the Island Marathon”!

Jim Whelan is a former NJ Senator, Mayor of Atlantic City, Captain of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, Atlantic City teacher, and Atlantic City High School Swim Coach. Jim was a national distance swimmer and has taught countless Atlantic City children how to swim. To say that Atlantic City and swimming were a major part of Jim’s life just isn’t enough. This festival is a great time to get the whole family involved, introduce the love of open water racing to youngsters and see some of great swimmers compete in a legendary event.

The Jim Whelan Open Water Festival will bring back the historic 54th Around the Island Marathon (22.75 miles/36.4 km) back to the Atlantic City waters!

In addition, the Green Whales 2K and the Pilot Whales 400M will be available for those who are quite up to the incredible marathon distance swim.

With the addition of the classic Around the Island Marathon, it is now the longest race in the GSS! Longer than the 25k Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub in Perth, Australia or the 25k Kotlin Race in Russia.

The Around the Island Marathon, which started in 1954, has been dormant since 2006. So it will be met with eager anticipation by marathon swimmers from all over the world! The current record holder, as documented on, for the Around the Island Marathon is Stéphane Gomez, from France, set in 2004 with a time of 6:37.09.

Green Whales Inc is a NJ Non Profit that funds Whelan’s Whales, the Greenheads Swimming age group swim team, and the Greenheads Special Olympics swim team. Whelan’s Whales is a free swim lesson and water safety program provided to the children of Atlantic City. This program is run with Jim Whelan’s belief that all children living on the island should learn to swim and be safe in the water. Whelan’s Whales was created by the owners and staff of the Brigantine Aquatic Center in 2017. Local coaches, lifeguards, and older athletes have taught over 300 children in 2018, the inaugural year. In addition, to this wonderful program the Greenheads Special Olympics swim team was added to the Greenheads Swimming family as a free program to special needs children. Our Greenheads age group swim team has been a nonprofit team since 2002, providing year round scholarships and financial assistance to numerous athletes in Atlantic County.

All proceeds and fundraising from the festival’s three events will help support the Whelan’s Whales program and the Atlantic City youth in their swimming and water safety success!

So come on out, support a great cause and be a part of this incredible and historic race!


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