Dave Denniston

Dave Denniston

BandSpoken Word

From a downhill incident to an uphill battle, Dave Denniston has learned the importance of mind over body and in doing so has developed a more meaningful purpose for his life’s body of work.


A unique motivational strategy Denniston has shared with countless universities, organizations and companies to help them move forward towards their goals. It is the same philosophy that took the former National Champion from the hospital bed to Beijing for the Paralympic Games.

While Denniston’s body had changed it was quickly easy to see that his spirit had not. Known to joke with the healthcare professionals, Denniston still showed the sense of humor that made him such a popular captain for the Auburn University swim team. Within a week of the incident, over 1,000 e-mails filled his inbox, he had so many visitors he was given a private room, former arch-rival University of Georgia swim team sent flowers and kids he helped coach pledged their allowances.

The outpouring of support from the swimming community inspired Denniston to get back to the sport he loved. Swimming was regularly incorporated into his rehab and soon his former coach, Jimi Flowers, now the USOC Paralympic coach, was talking to him about the quadrennial event. After seeing the amazing accomplishments of athletes at past Paralympic Games, Denniston felt he could help bring notoriety to the remarkable competition and athletes who make it up. No longer able to use his legs in the pool, Dave had to adapt to a new swimming style, which takes twice as many strokes to get across the pool. In April 2008, after months of rigorous training, Dave qualified for the Paralympic Games in the 100m breaststroke and went to Beijing as the captain of the swim team.

Outside of swimming, Denniston has found value in giving back to the community. Still a master of the breaststroke, Dave teaches youth swimming clinics around the country. In 2006, he developed a fundraiser entitled Relay Across America, which brings swimmers from around the country together to raise money for the National Transplant Assistant Fund, which helps provide financial support for people looking to receive a transplant. As part of the Team for Tomorrow, he and other Olympic and Paralympic athletes work closely with the Habitat for Humanity to provide homes for the less fortunate. The swim team captain also serves as a U.S. Paralympic Mentor for up and coming athletes.

Named the 2007 NCAA Inspiration Award recipient for his accomplishments, Denniston has had his story covered by news outlets such as Sports Illustrated and The Denver Post. When not training for the Paralympics Games, he travels the country as a motivational speaker, a task he was well prepared for seeing as he graduated from Auburn with a degree in communications. The paralympians’ story resonates especially loud with students. In the past, he has presented to Auburn University, Kansas University and University of California-Berkeley.