Swim With Mike Raises $1 Million in Scholarship Support for Athletes With Disabilities

by Riley Overend 0

April 09th, 2024 College, News

The 43rd annual Swim With Mike event on Saturday at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center raised more than $1 million for college scholarships reserved for athletes with physical disabilities.

Named in honor of former Trojans swimmer Mike Nyeholt — who was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident back in 1981 — the fundraiser upped its 43-year total to $30 million in scholarship support for nearly 300 physically challenges athletes. Almost 50 athletes are currently recipients of the Swim With Mike scholarship.

“The 43rd annual Swim With Mike was tremendously gratifying thanks to the generous support from friends and donors who have been with us from the beginning, coupled with the ripple effect of new support from all over the country,” said Ron Orr, executive director of Swim With Mike and a USC teammate of Nyeholt’s.

“The success of this past weekend has helped us raise over $1 million in this year’s campaign and has boosted our 43-year total to over $30 million in scholarship support for physically challenged athletes,” Orr said. “The recipients of the scholarships continue to inspire us with their courage, dedication and determination.”

This year’s Swim With Mike event also featured a 50th reunion of USC’s 1973-74 swimming and diving team, which won the NCAA title by just one point ahead of Long Beach State. Olympians Steve Furniss, John Naber, Joe Bottom, Tom McBreen, and Rod Strachan were in attendance along with All-Americans such as Jack Tingley, Kim Tutt, Bruce Kocsis, Allen Poucher, Rod Stewart, Mark Greenwood, Scott Brown, and David Hannula.

The current recipients of the Swim With Mike scholarship are Arizona State’s Steven Azarian, University of Denver’s Mason Branstrator, University of Texas Arlington’s Josh Brewer, University of Georgia’s Nadia Burns, Ruben Casas of UC Davis, USC’s Dillon Connolly, University of Lynchburg’s Abigail Curtis, Sacred Heart’s Charles DeGennaro, Southern Oregon’s Gabriela Durgin, Anderson’s Sydney Fowler, USC’s Natalie Fung, Northern Kentucky’s Hunter Garstin, William James’ Alex Goldmeier, George Mason’s Parker Haller, Nick Harris of UC Davis, UT-Austin’s Blake Holst, Bridgewater State’s Matt Hylen, LSU’s Ella Ivie, USC’s Jonathan Jimenez, Nevada’s Amanda Joens, Hillsdale’s Charles Kennedy, Arizona’s Brandon Louie, Harvard’s Ian Malesiewski, Ohio State’s Joshua Marino, Gonzaga’s Allison McKernan, Arizona State’s Nick Miles, USC’s Rachel Miller, USC’s Myles Molnar, Marist College’s Nathan Morse, Texas Tech’s Rachel Norris, Wyoming’s Jack O’Neil, Morningside’s Kailin Pippenger, TCU’s Joe Radanovich, UCLA’s Krista Ramirez-Villatoro, New Haven’s Troy Russell, UMass Lowell’s Brendan Shea, Cal’s Ajay Shenoy, Missouri’s Danny Smuts, Clemson’s Austin Somerville, Michigan’s Aaron Stant, Babson College’s Jack Thibeault, San Diego State’s Alex Uppenkamp, Seattle’s Hayden Werdal, Colorado’s Mark Wilbourne, Duke’s Erica Wilson, and Clemson’s McKenna Woodhead.

Also on hand for the 2024 edition of Swim With Mike were the Trojan Marching Band and Dance Team. USC spirit leaders participated in a Biggest Splash Contest, others competed in wheelchair basketball and pickleball tournaments, and others did a Masters swim workout and Deep End Fitness exhibition. The event doubled as a 10th anniversary celebration of the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.

In 1981, USC All-American swimmer Mike Nyeholt was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident that not only changed his life but led to the formation of a nationally-renowned scholarship program that changed the lives of hundreds of physically challenged athletes.

Following Nyeholt’s accident, his teammates organized a one-time fundraiser called “Swim for Mike” to raise funds for a fully equipped van for his use. However, the swimathon raised significantly more than was needed so, at Nyeholt’s suggestion, the excess funds were used to create the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund at USC.

A year later, Nyeholt — although still paralyzed — was able to enter the water with the other swimmers, so the event’s name was changed to “Swim with Mike.”

In 2001, the program was expanded to allow scholarship recipients the opportunity to attend any university of their choice, not just USC. Today, the annual Swim With Mike event is a day-long community-building celebration and swim-athon that is attended by current and former scholarship recipients, as well as supporters of the program and other guests and VIPs.

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About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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