Swim with Mike is an annual swim-a-thon that raises funds for the University of Southern California Physically Challenged Athlete's Scholarship Fund. The event was originally established in 1981 to raise funds for Mike Nyeholt, a three time All-American champion, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a motorcycle accident. The first event raised $58,000 to purchase a specially equipped van for Mike, more than enough to cover the expense of the van. At his suggestion, the excess funds were used to create the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund—the only one of its kind in the country. Mr. Nyeholt was so touched by the support he received that he decided to raise funds for other physically challenged athletes. This annual event became the Swim with Mike Program.
Since its inception, more than 3,000 swimmers and 10,000 donors from 20 states have participated, raising over $1.5 million. Additional supporters have included Former Presidents Ford and Reagan, numerous film and television stars and professional athletes. Corporate supporters include GTE, Capital Group Inc., QuikSilver, Disney, McDonalds, Rykoff-Sexton Inc and Speedo. This program has helped 30 physically challenged athletes receive full tuition, housing, books and on-campus transportation.
Recipients must have suffered an illness or injury, resulting in a physical disability that substantially limits major life activity. In addition, they must have participated in organized high school or college athletics before their illness or injury. By helping individuals develop positive self-esteem, The Swim with Mike Program empowers them to self-sufficiency, while they redefine, refocus and rediscover who they are and what they can accomplish.