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Tuesday, February 24, 2004
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Ed Wright's legacy swims on

By Amy Wells

After being the captain of the first men's varsity swimming team in 1935, Ed Wright continued his dedication to Ohio University through gifts of time, talent, and treasure. Today, Mike Worley honors this dedication with the Ed Wright and Mike Worley Swimming and Diving Fund.

In 1934, then-freshman Ed Wright set out on a one-man campaign to convince Ohio University administrators to add an Intercollegiate Swim Team to the existing athletic program. The most memorable example of his determination was competing in and winning a five-mile swim that took place off the Lake Erie shores. Not only did Wright win the race, but he finished all five miles in fine back stroke fashion. The publicity gained by Wright's victory was enough to convince Ohio University Athletic Director, O.C. Bird, how beneficial a swim team could be to the Ohio University Athletic Department.

The Ed Wright and Mike Worley Swimming and Diving Fund was created after Ed Wright's death in Jan. 2001. Wright had recently made a gift of $10,000 to the Swimming and Diving Wall of Fame. To establish the gift as an endowment, Worley made a gift to the Bicentennial Campaign of $5,000 in honor of Ed Wright.

Endowments create the foundation upon which universities build lasting financial strength and ensure academic quality. Once in place, endowments provide permanent support for teaching and research, student aid, and an abundance of other academic programs and activities. A minimum of $15,000 is necessary to establish an endowment and earnings are made available each year.

"The gift was a nice fit," Worley said. "I was the diving coach when the gift was made. I knew of the funding issue and felt it was important to maintain the wall for future swimming and diving athletes."

The fund will maintain and enhance the Ed Wright Wall of Fame. Any extra funds will go to equipment enhancements for the swimming and diving teams at the discretion of Head Coach Greg Werner.

Mike Worley served as the diving coach from 1989 to 1996. During this time he was named the Men's and Women's Mid-American Conference (MAC) Diving Coach of the Year and led the team to six MAC championships. He is currently the Associate Executive Director of Chapter Outreach and Engagement for Alumni Relations.

Along with being the captain of the first swimming team, Wright served as the junior class president, football manager, and was a member of Beta Theta Pi during his undergraduate experience from 1934 to 1938. After graduating with a degree in commerce, Wright worked for Procter & Gamble before establishing the Forest Hills Publishing Co. in 1960.

"After his retirement, Ed Wright came to every swim meet possible along with many other athletic events," Worley said.

The Edward B. Wright Wall of Fame, located on the second floor of the Aquatic center, includes alumni such as five-time All Americans Joy Clark (1990-1991) and Neal Wade (1969-1970) for their outstanding achievement. The wall also includes a listing of captains, coaches, and MAC champions.

With the help of Mike Worley, Ed Wright's dedication to Ohio University will continue to support generations of swimmers and divers for years to come.

The Bicentennial Campaign - which has raised more than $192 million toward its goal of raising $200 million in time for the University's bicentennial in 2004 - will provide money for scholarships, endowed professorships, technological enhancements, innovative programs and selected capital improvements.

Amy Wells '04 is a development communication assistant for the Division of University Advancement.

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