AU Alum Nathan Manley Fulfills Olympic Dream



For one Anderson University alum, the Olympic dream has been realized. Athletes of all sports from all over the world covet the chance to represent their country at the Olympic Games, and Nathan Manley ’00 did just that this past summer as the head swimming coach for the USA Paralympic Swim Team.

Success came in bunches for the Americans at the Paralympic Games with the swimmers racking up 35 medals as part of the U.S. total of 104. Manley, who was hired to coach the Paralympic team in 2016, found the experience rewarding, especially after the games were postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was definitely a little different with no fans and all of the protocols,” said Manley. “It was still a really amazing opportunity to work with those athletes, see them achieve their dreams, and get to be on the stage with them.”

It’s been a winding path across the country for Manley to get to the Paralympic Games from Anderson University. Following his time at AU, he taught high school English in California, but transitioned to full-time coaching a few years later when he and his family moved to Michigan to be closer to family. Manley coached on the able-bodied club side, but a chance meeting with an up-and-coming Paralympic Games hopeful changed the trajectory of his career. He was introduced to the Paralympic side of swimming and when Team USA was searching for a new head coach in 2016, he found himself on the short list of candidates, and eventually earned the job.

Manley had a personal connection with AU long before he stepped foot on campus as a student. Both of his parents are graduates of the university and his father, Mike, served as head football coach from 1982 to 1997. The familiarity with campus was a key player in Manley attending AU, but he also found another draw: Tri-S.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that a man who is well-traveled, thanks to an international team coaching position, enjoyed Tri-S. In total, Manley went on nine Tri-S trips during his time as a Raven. He touts the opportunity as one that current and prospective students should not overlook.

“Students do not want to miss this opportunity,” said Manley. “Just about every break there’s an inexpensive international trip you can go on and serve some people in pretty incredible ways.”

Overall, Manley cites his AU experience as “foundational” and he’s proof that graduates of the university can ascend to the highest levels of their field. As he looks ahead, Team USA is now preparing for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris before an exciting opportunity to host in 2028, when the games come to Los Angeles.

“It’s been rewarding to be a part of the increased opportunities for these athletes,” said Manley. “In the next seven year as we look towards LA, I would love for us to be a country that embraces and values [the Paralympic athletes] just as much as the other side of the sport.”

The quotes from this article were originally given during Manley’s interview with Anderson University Director of Alumni Relations Trent Palmer on the Echoes podcast. You can listen to Manley’s full appearance online.

Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.