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Dave Loeffler’s Big Swim To Be Celebrated

Courtesy of Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, South Bay, California.

Dave Loeffler completed his Big Swim on October 8th – 9th. Nancy Miller of the Jimmy Miller Foundation is hosting an event on November 5th in his hometown of Prescott, Arizona at the Prescott Resort. The event will honor his swim that brought attention to disabled military veterans and the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation.

Jimmy Miller was a surfer, teacher, lifeguard, traveler, writer and a surfing ambassador and leader from Los Angeles, California.

In one of his columns for the Beach Reporter, he wrote, “There was great shorepound, as there always used to be, at Fourth Street in Manhattan. I rode my new Boogie Board. It was an evening that may have set the course for the rest of my life. As I waited outside the bodysurfers for a wave that broke a little further out, a glassy left loomed in.

I turned, kicked and started down the face. As soon as I was at the bottom the wave barreled. I was totally inside for the first time in my life, and without even trying, I saw water all around me.

In front of me was a blue hole, with light entering in a perfectly round opening. Time slowed down, and I heard a light Whoooo as the wave’s energy pushed wind out from behind me. Two, maybe three seconds later, I was out of the tube with my mouth agape. It took me a moment to realize what had happened because, at 7 years old, no one had told me that a tube ride was the ultimate feat in riding a wave.”

A 1991 graduate of the University of California Berkeley, he organized the Cal Surf Club. Then in 1998, he founded his own surf company, Pure Surfing Experience where taught surfing, produced local contests, and organized CampSurf, summer day camps in the city of Manhattan Beach as well as week-long camps all over the world.

He also served as a L.A. County lifeguard for 15 years, most of those years in Manhattan Beach where he worked for the Junior Lifeguard Program.

After his passing at the age of 35, his family and friends wanted to honor his legacy and the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation was formed.

The Foundation is dedicated to creating and providing activities and programs to help people with mental and emotional illness benefit from the therapeutic and healing powers of the ocean. Specifically, its focus on Ocean Therapy is to help people learn to love, heal and feel joy from the power of the ocean and the power of loving friends.

Ocean Therapy is an adaptive surfing program to assist individuals – from at-risk youth to wounded warriors – coping with mental and physical illness in accessing the ocean environment. Surfing has long since been a sport associated with freedom and independence and has the ability to support individuals with special needs in increasing their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Loeffler helped support the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation through his Big Swim when he pioneered a 34 km course from LCI Point on San Clemente Island to China Point on Catalina Island on October 8th and 9th. The Big Swim was sanctioned by the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association and was completed in 15 hours 29 minutes.

The former Navy SEAL started his unprecedented swim at 10 pm and swam directly to Catalina Island with an anticipated arrival of 10 am on the next day due to the calm night seas.

Nancy Miller of the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation described his effort, “As Dave approached Catalina, he encountered pods of inquisitive dolphins and a whale that tracked his progress. As the seas became progressively more difficult to navigate, the team was forced to reevaluate their landing spot to ensure his safety and that of those on the boat.

This historic swim was cancelled twice due to dangerous water and weather conditions like these, but this time he was able to persevere.

The goal of the swim is to raise money for the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation whose pioneering Ocean Therapy program combines adaptive surf lessons and group therapy for those suffering from mental and physical effects of traumatic experiences. The Foundation conducts regular Ocean Therapy sessions with the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West at Camp Pendleton, California and with veterans from all branches of the military in conjunction with the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital.”

Loeffler explained, “I am a disabled vet and want to share my passion for feeling closest to nature and to God when immersed in the world’s open waters. This swim is the same distance as the notorious English Channel at 21 miles, but differs greatly because of the very real threat of shark attack. Taking on this swim was a perfect opportunity to call attention to issues suffered by disabled veterans and help raise funds for those that are serving our veterans like the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation.

I kept the veterans who I served with in his heart. Water heals…this was a lifetime goal and dream.

For information about The Big Swim celebration, email For more information on The Big Swim, visit here. To donate, visit here.

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