Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Management
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
Ron Orr is the Founder of Swim With Mike and has served as the organization’s Executive Director since inception. Orr was an elite level, nationally ranked swimmer for El Monte Aquatics and San Gabriel High School when he was recruited by and went on attend the University of Southern California along with best friend and high school teammate Mike Nyeholt.
At USC Orr was a 6 – time All American, USC record holder in the 1650 and was on 3 NCAA Championship teams. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the Trojan Knights and currently serves as the faculty advisor for the Knights. Following graduation, Orr went on to serve as assistant to legendary USC Swim Coach Peter Daland for two years and also served as Associate Director of USC’s Annual Giving Office.
In 1981 Orr’s life made a radical turn when Mike Nyeholt was in a motorcycle accident that broke his neck and left him a quadriplegic. He didn’t know what to do but he knew that Mike needed help and he needed to do something. Orr brought together former teammates and other friends to organize a “Swim a Thon” that they called “Swim for Mike”. The scheduled one-time event raised over $58,000 which was more than enough to purchase an adapted van for Mike. Based on Mike’s recommendation, the additional funds were put aside to help other physically challenged athletes. The next year, 1982, the event’s name was changed to Swim WITH Mike when Mike agreed to swim at the event, thus establishing the annual fundraising campaign to support ever more scholarship recipients.
In his professional life Orr went on to work for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the year and one half leading up to the 1984 Olympic Games. He served as Venue Manager for swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events and was involved with the development of the McDonalds Swim Stadium, which opened it’s doors with the 1983 Swim With Mike.
Following the Olympic Games Orr joined the USC athletic development office as Assistant Athletic Director. He was promoted to Associate Athletic Director in August of 1995 and to Senior Associate Athletic Director in 2010. Orr handles all annual giving operations, major gifts and Coliseum renovation fundraising for USC Athletics. Orr received the USC President’s Award for Staff Achievement in 1992 and the Fred B. Olds Alumni Award in 2009.
While Orr has been extremely successful in his athletic and professional life Swim With Mike continues to be a passion for him after more than 36 years. “I am motivated daily to do whatever I can to help pave the way for individuals to overcome their tragedies and strive for a brighter future and I intend to lay the groundwork that will allow Swim With Mike to thrive long after I am gone.”