The swimming fraternity is like no other. When one member of that fraternity suffers a tragic accident, others swim into action to help the cause.
On September 22, the Rider University men's and women's swimmers participated in the '1500 Meters for Mike', an open water swim in Belmar, New Jersey to assist TCNJs Michael Heaney and his family as he recovers from a serious bicycle accident.
On April 11, 2012, Heaney was riding his bicycle and was hit by an on-coming car. The impact decimated his left side; crushing his rib cage, shattering his pelvis, and leaving him with a serious compound fracture in his leg as well as severe brain trauma.
"The nature of the event appeals to swimmers," Bronc head coach Steve Fletcher said. "Everyone can put themselves in the family's position and with the athletes (TCNJ and Rider) being so close in location, it gives extra meaning to be able to participate and help such a worthy cause."
Over 500 swimmers participated in the event that organized in less than a months' time with Rider senior Brian Molloy (Toms River/Toms River HS East) winning the event and Bronc senior Addie Oswald (Henderson, Nev./Green Valley) placing in the top three finishers on the women's side.
"It felt great to swim for such a worthy cause," Molloy said. "I really wanted to swim my all and represent Rider University in the best way possible."
"Most of the colleges and high schools in New Jersey were represented," said Fletcher. "It was impressive how quickly the swimming community in New Jersey was mobilized to help Mike's family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as he continues to recover."
A native of Voorhees in South Jersey, Heaney was a student-athlete for The College of New Jersey men's swimming and diving team from the 2005-06 through 2008-09 seasons. The Bishop Eustace graduate was a tri-captain for the Lions during his senior season, specializing in the backstroke and individual medley events.
Heaney is currently in a full care rehabilitation facility at Willow Creek, in Somerset, New Jersey.
"Looking at Mike's accident really makes me realize how fragile life is," Molloy added. "It makes you realize how important things are with swimming, school and competition."