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    28th March 2016

    Swim With Mike Campaign 2016

    My personal Swim With Mike campaign for 2016 is going to be short and focused. I try not to wear out my welcome with my friends and family by pushing Swim With Mike too much or too often, but everyone knows that Swim With Mike is an organization that is near and dear to my heart.

    If you want to know why Swim With Mike is so important to me, you can listen to me talk about the organization in a radio interview from 2012 here:

    Or you can read my speech from the 2012 Swim With Mike here:

    Or you can see the infographic I made to send out to friends and family last year:

    Whether or not you are convinced by the above, what you SHOULD do NOW is open a new browser tab and read about the current Swim With Mike recipients:

    Or go to the Swim With Mike facebook page and look at pictures of all the people positively affected by Swim With Mike:

    And then you should donate. Or sign up to swim and do your own fundraiser, because it doesn’t matter to me whether I bring the money or you bring the money. What matters to me is that young men and women are given a second chance to be successful and are given the motivation to get up and try again after being knocked down.

    Will you join in with me in making that second chance possible for the next generation of Swim With Mike recipients?

    11th April 2015

    My Year by the Numbers…


    8th April 2015

    Swim With Mike GIF!

    Swim With Mike GIF

    Swim With Mike is this Saturday! Still time to support my swim:

    12th April 2012

    On JT the Brick for Swim With Mike tonight…

    Tonight I’m doing a call-in “appearance” to talk about Swim With Mike on JT the Brick, a nationally syndicated sports talk show, at 10:45 PST (11:45 MST). If you’re in LA you can listen at AM 570, Fox Sports Radio; if you’re in Colorado you can hear the show on 104.3 the fan!

    And I would love if someone recorded it somehow, but no pressure internet.

    #32nd Annual Swim With Mike

    12th March 2012

    Elevator access…

    Living in a big city with a lot of history and older buildings, and going to a school with a lot of history and older buildings is a little bit different than living on the Front Range of Colorado. Most public buildings, restaurants, and schools in the Loveland-Fort Collins area were built relatively recently and generally have accessible entrances and sensible planned elevator placements.

    This is not the case in Los Angeles or at USC. I don’t necessarily want to deface historic buildings with cool architecture, and there would be prohibitive costs to updating other buildings in ways that made the building more universally accessible. However, sometimes there are some things that could be done differently that would make things easier for people with access issues. I’m planning on writing a few posts about these in the near future, but I’ll start with one that is more or less already written for me.

    The Lyon Center is USC’s recreation center/gym for students. It was built in the 1989 next to the McDonald’s Olympic Swim Stadium. The pool is incredible and I have loved swimming in both the 50 meter competition pool and the 25 yard diving pool. However, the Lyon Center itself has a few access issues. For one thing, entering the center on the main floor, there is a single width turnstyle for entering and then several doors for exiting users that are kept locked on the outside. So for a wheelchair user to enter the first floor, either a person from the desk has to go around and open the door or if a user is exiting at that moment, he or she can hold the door. That’s not so bad.

    To get to the second floor there is an elevator. However, the elevator is outside of the official entrance, in the lobby area. This summer, when I would go to the Lyon Center, the elevator would always be locked and I would have to ask someone from the desk to unlock it if I wanted to use to machines and weights upstairs. This might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes people at the desk were busy or were unable to locate the elevator key right away. And besides that, I was frustrated that I was the only user that I ever saw having to ask to use the upstairs of the facility. I talked to some of the people working at the desk one night. They explained it was policy and I tried to reason with them that the policy was not right and just – and I got a bit heated up and realized there wasn’t anything the front desk workers could do so I left a note for their supervisor with my email.

    I’m publishing the following email exchange not as a way to tarnish or damage anyone’s reputation, but for the sake of learning from one another. I understand and respect the position of the people I interacted with concerning this situation, but I think it is interesting because it shows the lack of understanding and awareness for the general public when it comes to accessibility issues. It also gives part of my position in regards to access and why equal and independently achieved access is so important.

    Here is the email I received after leaving the note:

    Hi Daryl,

    I received a note from one of my staff members about the elevator access. We have to lock the elevator in the up position during business hours because it allows direct access to our second floor. Hence we have no way to control who uses the elevator to gain access to the facility. That is why we lock the elevator unless we have a member who needs to utilize it. I hope this helps answer your question and apologize for the inconvenience. If you ever need access, just let one of our staff members know and they’d be happy to help you. Thank you.

    Brendan Gail
    Assistant Director, Recreational Sports

    My (delayed) response to this email:


    I’m surprised I never replied to this message when I received it a few months back. I appreciate the information about elevator access at the Lyon Center – however, I have to respectfully question whether there isn’t a better solution to this issue. I was actually quite surprised, as a new graduate student at USC, to find this situation with the elevator in the recreation center, especially since USC is the host institution for the Swim With Mike program and has had so many SWM recipients. I’m not saying that this is an egregious piece of discrimination, but it is a blatant inequality. Only students who require elevator use have to ask to go to the second floor – and then wait while a staff member finds the elevator key. Since you have never been in this situation, you might not realize that access issues confront wheelchair users everywhere they go, creating a feeling of second-class citizenship. Certainly an institution like USC would want to be on the front lines creating
    an equal-access environment for as many students as possible. A tenet of education in America today is that “separate is not equal,” and it doesn’t seem as though I should have to ask to go upstairs at the Lyon Center when no other student would ever have to do the same.

    If the situation doesn’t change I will still continue to use the Lyon Center – think of this message as a suggestion of something to look into that could improve the experience of a small group of students. I’m not sure what a good solution would be to this problem, but one idea would be to issue elevator passes to students or other Lyon Center users who require elevator access and request them.

    I also have one other suggestion for the Lyon Center. It could be beneficial to the student population as a whole have one or two pieces of cardio equipment that could be utilized by non-ambulatory students, such as an upper body ergometer or stationary handcycle. These could benefit not only students who are not able to use the other cardio machines such as treadmills or ellipticals, but also other students who are rehabbing from injury or who want to do a cross-training workout.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Daryl Holmlund

    The response that I got back, after my email apparently made its way to a different level of management:


    First of all, I want you to know that the reason we keep the elevator in the locked position is for “safety”. As Brendan has mentioned to you in his email, we have had some unfortunate situations with non USC students gaining access to the facilities through the facilities. Having said that, you have made a very valid point. Our intent is never to make anyone unwelcome or have the feeling of inequality.

    Moving forward, my suggestion is for anyone who needs the use of the elevator to check out the key with his/her ID from our Membership and/or Facilities staff. I will work with the Facilities Management Services staff to see the possibilities of installing a card swipe system for the elevator.
    Please let me know if you have any other suggestions and we will work together to resolve it.
    Thank you.

    Arvin Varma
    Project Administrator Youth Programs
    Associate Director
    USC Recreational Sports

    I would like to say that I have seen the new cardio equipment that was ordered, but I haven’t. And I would love to say that a card swipe had been installed for the elevator. It hasn’t.

    But, on the other hand, the elevator hasn’t ever been locked anytime I’ve been to the Lyon Center during this school year. I’m not sure if giving up security for accessibility is a 100% win, but perhaps they realized that the security issue was easily taken care of by having attentive desk workers, while the accessibility issue was also easily resolved (for me, at least) by leaving the elevator unlocked. I know there are several other wheelchair users who occasionally use the Lyon Center, but more importantly, it will hopefully mean better access for the students who will be coming in the future.

    27th November 2011

    USC-UCLA game videos

    I finished some classes this weekend – hopefully even passing them! I also went to the USC-UCLA football game, and while there, I did a little video experimentation. Check out the videos below to see a little bit of what goes on game day at USC.

    24th May 2011

    Teaching sex-ed through film-making

    Last week, on campus at USC, I came across a young woman trying to give away 2-liter bottles of Pepsi while she was systematically opening the bottles and checking to code numbers on the lids. I wasn’t entirely sure what to think of this, so I stopped and asked what she was doing and why she was giving away the Pepsi.

    Tani, for that ended up being her name, was using the prize codes on the bottle lids to make earn extra votes for the Pepsi Refresh Project. Tani is the co-founder of a community based organization called imMEDIAte Justice, which “is a summer program designed to empower young women leaders from South Central & East LA to share their knowledge through film” (from their website). The idea of the program is that since teenagers actually listen to other teenagers, who would be better to teach teens about sex than teens themselves? imMEDIAte Justice sets up students with mentors from the world of film and reproductive health, and then they work together to create a film that can then be shown to other teens or posted on the web. So the project benefits teenagers in two ways: first, the students that actually take part in the mentoring and creation of the the film benefit because they are mentored by caring adults and learn useful skills in the process; and second, other students from all over can benefit from engaging with the finished product.

    Though I might not agree with all of the viewpoints of the organization, I do think what they are doing is a really good idea, and said that I would give them some support for the Pepsi Refresh competition. imMEDIAte Justice is currently in 8th place and the top 15 receive $25,000 from Pepsi Refresh. Please consider voting for imMEDIAte Justice by visiting their page at Pepsi Refresh, or by texting 106065 to 73774 – that is, put 106065 in the body of the text message and then you send that to the “phone number” of 73774.

    If you would like to know more about imMEDIAte Justice, you can also visit their website at

    Voting closes at the end of the month – please consider voting!

    24th April 2011

    Trip to LA/USC/Swim With Mike: Report #1

    I went to LA last weekend for the big Swim With Mike swim-a-thon fundraiser. I stayed with my friend Colin, who is another Swim recipient and is doing a grad program in landscape architecture at USC. That dude is amazing. I had a great time hanging out with Colin and his brother/brother’s wife and 21-month-old son.

    And then there was the Swim With Mike event itself. Which was crazy. And incredible. Hundreds of swimmers. Hundreds of volunteers – or at least it seemed like it. Maybe something like 50 recipients or alumni showed up. The USC marching band. The USC Song Girls. A relay race with football players racing football coaches across the pool… while they push Song Girls on inner tubes. (Whoever thought of that one? Hey, you know what will get people to donate?… We could have this relay race…).

    Oh, and over $1.3 million raised.

    Not bad for a swim-a-thon. The founders of the event are trying to set up a fund so they can have an endowed chairmanship position for when they decide to retire from working on the program, so this year’s fundraiser could go a little ways toward setting that up. All around, it was a pretty amazing weekend. I’ll have more story soon. Promise.

    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.