Don’t miss the swim-a-thon on July 15

Mike Heaney dedicated his life to swimming.

The 25-year-old Voorhees native grew up learning and loving how to swim at the Downs Farms Swim Club on Haddonfield-Berlin Road in Cherry Hill.

The Bishop Eustace grad went on to become tri-captain of the swim team at The College of New Jersey his senior year. During his final season in 2009, Heaney captured the Metropolitan Conference Championship Title in the 200 backstroke event with a time of 1:51.81, which broke TCNJ’s own school record.

Things were going well for Heaney, friends said. He was living on his own and working for Verizon.

But on April 11, all that changed.

Heaney was on his way to register his car, which had been impounded for outdated registration. While riding his bike to pay for his registration, he was hit on his bicycle by a car in northern New Jersey.

He sustained injuries and has recently awoken from an induced coma. He has spent the past few months in a rehabilitation facility.

Because of all the medical bills his family will incur, the swimming community is rallying around Heaney to hold Meters for Mike, a swim-a-thon on Sunday, July 15 to raise money to help the family. The event will be held at the Downs Farms Swim Club from 7:30 to noon.

Joanna Melchiorre, a volunteer aquatics director at the swim club, has seen the impact Heaney’s swimming career has had on the community, firsthand. She’s been volunteering at Downs Farms for more than 10 years, she said, and also worked with Heaney’s father, a Tri-County Swimming representative.

“He’s a very happy boy. I remember when he was little, he was always happy when he was swimming. His mom said he has a lot of friends,” Melchiorre said.

Friends near and far have stepped up to organize the event and provide assistance to the Heaneys.

Heaney’s co-workers at Verizon donated blood to help their friend in the hospital. Swim club staff is also working on getting the word out about the event, going pool-to-pool in Cherry Hill and Voorhees to invited coaches, teams, swimmers and friends to the fundraising event.

Melchiorre said she expects a big turnout during the event, which costs $10 at the door to enter the club the day of. Swimmers can also garner additional pledges to swim and to support Heaney.

Melchiorre said the swim clubs she and staff members have visited already promised they would be in attendance.

“I think it’s going to be wonderful to see how many people know and love him,” Melchiorre said.

Heaney deserves a helping hand, Melchiorre said, after doing so much for others. The business/finance major has also spent time as a volunteer firefighter in the community and is described by friends and family as a hard worker.

“Swimming families are just wonderful and willing to do anything,” Melchiorre said.

For more information, call the swim club at 428-1151.

About Melissa DiPento

If it happens in Cherry Hill, I want to know about it. I'm a South Philly resident/South Jersey suburbanite and will see the story first-hand, even if that means riding my single-speed bike along Route 70. I especially enjoy writing about politics and sustainability.View all posts by Melissa DiPento