A new nonprofit has been created to take over the management of the “Swim with Mike Foundation” to continue the work of providing scholarships to physically challenged individuals that began at USC over 40 years ago.
In 1981, All-American swimmer, Mike Nyeholt, was injured in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed. The local swimming community rallied to his aid and created a swimming fundraiser called “Swim for Mike.” At that event, Nyeholt pledged to find a way to get out of his wheelchair and swim to help others in a similar situation. By the time Nyeholt entered the water in 1982, “Swim for Mike” had evolved into “Swim with Mike,” a scholarship fund at USC that created opportunities for physically challenged student athletes to continue their higher education, thereby helping them overcome their tragedies and realize their full potential.
“Mike Nyeholt and the Swim with Mike Foundation are institutions of our community and represent the Fight On spirit that defines the Trojan Family,” USC Director of Athletics Mike Bohn said. “We are thrilled to support Swim with Mike as it grows and evolves into its own foundation. We look forward to continuing our participation in the annual swimming fundraiser, which we are proud to host at USC and the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.”
“While this new beginning with a national focus is a change, it does nothing to create distance between the foundation and the university,” said the newly elected President of the Swim with Mike Foundation, John Naber. The winner of five Olympic medals, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Board member and USC Hall of Famer, added, “We appreciate the blessing and promise of continued assistance from the university, as we grow our ability to provide scholarship assistance to more physically challenged student athletes.”
At USC, Swim with Mike has raised over $25 million and provided financial assistance for 250 physically challenged student-athletes to continue their education at 130 institutions of higher learning. Through the generosity of the loyal Swim with Mike supporters, over $1 million additional was raised during Covid event restrictions, and over 50 scholarship recipients benefited from the ongoing support. The new foundation is a 501 (c) (3).
The new Swim with Mike Foundation board includes (among others), Naber, Nyeholt, four other recipients of Swim with Mike Scholarships, and also Fred Uytengsu, a Nyeholt friend whose family donated the funds to create the Uytengsu Aquatic Center on the USC campus. Swim with Mike founder, Ron Orr, continues his role as the program’s Executive Director.
“We love our origin story and our relationship with the University and the Uytengsu Aquatics Center,” said Nyeholt. “And we plan to expand the national reach of our Mission while continuing to hold the annual ‘Swim with Mike’ celebration at USC for years to come.”
Dillon Connolly, a former USC swimmer who was paralyzed in a beach accident years ago, is now attending graduate classes at USC’s Marshall School of Business with the help of a SWM scholarship. “This organization is far more than just financial help for injured athletes,” he said. “It has created hope and focus for me to move forward while I gain momentum to make something positive come out of my injury.”
“Creating a national foundation for Swim with Mike had always been a dream,” said Orr, who, like Naber, was a teammate of Nyeholt’s on USC’s NCAA championship swimming teams in the 1970s. “We are forever grateful to the Trojan Family for their confidence and generosity in making that dream a reality. The 40th Anniversary will forever be known as our National Foundation Campaign.”
To make a Swim with Mike Foundation gift or for more information about this inspiring program that turns tragedy into triumph and triumph into opportunity, go to swimwithmike.org or contact info@SwimwithMikeFoundation.org.