The Big Swim

The Big Swim

August 23, 2018

Former Navy Seal Attempts 21-mile Marathon Swim – San Clemente Island
To Catalina Island to Raise Funds for Disabled Veterans and the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation

On September 17, 2018, Dave Loeffler, a former Navy SEAL will set out to accomplish a never-been-done-before, unassisted, 21 mile marathon swim from San Clemente Island to Catalina Island to raise awareness of the sacrifices, challenges and triumphs of America’s disabled veterans. According to Loeffler, due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of San Clemente Island as a military base, this swim has not been attempted before. The physical challenges of swimming 12-15 hours or more in the open ocean, the environmental factors such as the water temperature averaging in the low 60’s F, and the fact that this area is also known for a dense population of Great White sharks serves as a great backdrop to bring awareness to the physical and mental challenges of disabled vets. “This,” says Loeffler, “is exactly why this swim provides a hearty challenge and drama to increase awareness of our cause to promote awareness for disabled veterans and help raise funds for those that are serving our veterans.”

Loeffler chose the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation as the beneficiary of the fundraising because of their pioneering Ocean Therapy program that combines adaptive surf lessons and group therapy for those suffering from mental and physical effects of traumatic experiences. JMMF conducts regular Ocean Therapy sessions with the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West at Camp Pendleton, CA and with veterans from all branches of the military in conjunction with the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital. The most common disabilities that challenge our military servicemen are PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Ocean Therapy’s goal is to improve self-efficacy, self-confidence and the joy the ocean brings to all, helping them heal both physically and mentally.

The BIG SWIM will be sanctioned, observed and documented by the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association (SBCSA) and adhere to the basic rules of solo marathon swimming. The swimmer can never touch the escort boat, kayak or another person and will remain in the water for the duration and only wear a non-thermal, single layer swim suit, a swim cap and swim goggles – no wetsuit. The crew will consist of ultra athletes, medical professionals, official observers from the SBSCA, photographers and Dave’s support team that will feed him liquids and solids throughout the swim.

When asked why Loeffler is doing this swim, he said ,“I am a disabled vet and want to share my passion of feeling closest to nature and to God, when immersed in the worlds open waters.”

The BIG SWIM will depart King Harbor in Redondo Beach, CA at 10 am on September 17, 2018 and head directly to San Clemente Island. Loeffler will start at 10 pm and swim directly to Catalina Island with an anticipated arrival around 10 am, Tuesday, September 18. There will be a live feed during the swim and you can track his progress by visiting:

To contribute, please visit:

About Dave Loeffler:

Dave Loeffler is a former SEAL Team member who graduated BUD/S class 139 and served at SEAL Team 4. He is a service-connected, disabled vet and an employee of the VA hospital in Prescott, AZ. After his service, Dave became an open ocean marathon swimmer with experience in the Channel Islands and Lake Michigan. Dave is married and lives and works in Prescott, AZ.

About the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation:
The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation (JMMF) is a non-profit, established in 2005 that provides free of charge Ocean and Surf Therapy to the United States Marine Corps, Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, West Los Angeles Veterans and at-risk youth groups throughout Los Angeles and Southern California. JMMF honors the life of Jimmy Miller, a Los Angeles County Lifeguard, accomplished and honored waterman, author, and teacher who started Pure Surfing Experience/Camp Surf more than twenty years ago as the official “Surf School” of Manhattan Beach, CA. To date, JMMF has helped thousands of at-risk children, Wounded Warriors, and Veterans experience the ocean and surfing, while increasing their confidence and self-efficacy through guided group therapy, conducted by licensed therapists, lifeguards and trained volunteers. For more information: or

Jodi Flicker: 310-780-2724
Nancy Miller 310-266-0400

Ocean Therapy improves attitudes towards self identity for Youth

Ocean Therapy improves attitudes towards self identity for Youth

Last summer, 74 youth participated in a unique Ocean Therapy research study to better understand the benefits of participation in our unique program. In terms of the process of Ocean Therapy, we asked the youth to draw a picture of their experience of the day and we trained volunteers to code the drawings.

We found that youth expressed: experiencing Opportunities for Learning and Fun (95%); a positive attitude about their Self-Identify or Self-Concept (90%); feeling Safe (64%); experienced Social Support and Inclusion (62%).

These findings suggest that the Ocean Therapy program processes are operating in the manner in which they were intended and the goals are being achieved.

In addition to the drawings, we had participants complete a children’s Hope scale before and after participating in Ocean Therapy. Statistical analyses revealed a significant increase in mean Hope scores after participating in Ocean Therapy. These results suggest that Ocean Therapy positively affects children’s Hope.

Dr. Gregor Sarkisian is currently writing an academic article on the findings from this summer and we plan to publish it in the coming months. We will continue the same protocol for 2018 for the youth and will initiating some innovative research with various veterans groups as well.

We all know Ocean Therapy is effective and now we have proof! Stay tuned…

JMMF Past & Future

JMMF Past & Future

By Andy Dellenbach, Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation CEO

It’s an exciting time at the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation! From our humble beginnings as a community-based non-profit dedicated to honoring the life and spirit of Jimmy Miller, we’ve grown into an international leader in the alternative therapy world. Thanks to the vision and leadership of Dr. Carly Rogers and countless others, our Ocean Therapy Program is recognized around the world as the de facto protocol in surf therapy.

We started out in 2005 pioneering Ocean Therapy with children in the LA foster care system. Based on the amazing results, we extended our programming to help U.S. Marines in the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West at Camp Pendleton, which expanded to include veterans from all branches of the military, including women-only Veteran’s sessions. We now conduct close to 50 Ocean Therapy sessions annually touching thousands of lives in the process.

Based on our past success, our vision for the future is rather simple: We want to help as many people as possible experience the healing power of the ocean. To that extent, JMMF is embarking on a multi-phase expansion plan that includes:

  • New population groups including the addiction/recovery communities, mass public and terrorism victims (survivors)
  • Penetrating deeper into depression, anxiety and substance abuse programs with active duty military and veterans
  • Adding Southern California locations (northern LA County, Orange County, and San Diego), East Coast, the Pacific Rim and potentially other international beaches
  • Offering additional sports and activities in the alternative therapy realm

This expansion plan will require additional resources and leadership, and I’m grateful to accept the reins as the Chief Executive Officer of JMMF to lead us into the future. I’m even more excited about the amazing core team we have assembled to carry out our mission.

Nancy Miller


Kris Primacio


Kevin Sousa


Jodi Flicker


Gregor Sarkisian


In addition to this amazing team, we have the JMMF Board of Directors, a dedicated group of individuals, some of whom have been with us since day one. We also plan to add new Board members. Additionally, we are creating an Advisory Board and a Healthcare Advisory Board to help further progress our vision to be a leading organization in alternative therapy.

We invite you to join us to contribute your time, talent and treasure as we heal others and ourselves, one wave at a time. Please contact me anytime to climb aboard on this exciting adventure!

Grateful for your past and future support,
Andy Dellenbach
M: 310-968-4259