Swim With Mike is an annual swim-a-thon held to raise money for the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. Established in 1981, the Swim was scheduled to be a one-time event organized by friends and teammates on behalf of Mike Nyeholt, a three time All-American swimmer, who was paralyzed from the chest down following a motorcycle accident suffered in January of 1981.
Initially called Swim For Mike, the event was first held on March 7, 1981, to raise money to purchase a specially equipped van for Nyeholt. A week prior to the first Swim, Nyeholt was still in the hospital, and his supporters planned to show him a video of the fund-raiser once it was over. To everyone’s surprise, Nyeholt traveled by ambulance to make an appearance at the first event. More than $58,000 was raised that day, far exceeding the amount needed to purchase the van. At his suggestion, the excess funds were used to create the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund at the University of Southern California, the only one of its kind in the country.
Inspired by the overwhelming support, Nyeholt promised to swim in the future to raise money for the other disabled athletes. He kept his promise and swam the following year, and with his participation in the pool, Swim For Mike was appropriately renamed Swim With Mike. Nyeholt now co-chairs the organizing committee for the annual event, which has raised over $20 million and provided over 219 scholarships to Physically Challenged Athletes at 104 universities from Michigan to Hawaii.
On March 5, 2005 Swim With Mike held its first annual satellite swim at the University of Hawaii’s Duke Kahanamoku Aquatics Complex. It was a huge success bringing Hawaii’s sports and aquatics communities together for a great cause. We are now in our 13th successful year of this annual event.
The quintessential aquatics festival features the traditional swim-a-thon as well as water polo, surf polo (water polo played on surfboards), synchronized swimming, diving and the highlight – the student-athlete relays featuring collegiate student-athletes from the University of Hawaii and the Pacific West Conference.
In 2007, Swim With Mike scholarship recipient and Stanford University student Joe Kay, with the support of the Stanford Men’s and Women’s Volleyball teams, organized Swim With Mike at Stanford. Over the next two years, they raised more than $5,000 annually. In May of 2010 scholarship recipients Molly Fausone and Elizabeth Kolbe joined with the NCAA Champion Stanford Men’s Volleyball Team raised more than $10,000.
In 2008, Swim With Mike scholarship recipient and University of Connecticut student Joe Zinski joined with the UCONN Honors Program and the UCONN Huskies Student-Athletes hosted a Swim With Mike fundraiser raising more than $3,000. In April of 2009 they turned the event in to a water volleyball tournament which raised more than $5,500. On April 16, 2010 Joe celebrated his graduation with honors by organizing the 3rd Swim With Mike UCONN raising more than $12,000.
Other Swim With Mike recipients are planning events on their campuses swimming themselves or recruiting friends and family to swim, walk, roll, run, dive or float on their behalf. Our 2018 satellite events will be held at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, El Toro High School, and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Hawaii.
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