PSU grad, marathon swimmer inspires students


It takes the heart of a lion to become one of 11 people who have completed the Oceans Seven, an open water marathon swimming challenge in seven of the world’s toughest open waters, but as it turns out, the first American to complete it is a Nittany Lion.

On Thursday, that man, Darren Miller, spoke to Penn State Harrisburg about the importance of mental toughness. 

He’s been called a lunatic a time or two in his lifetime. 

“People call me crazy, but you know, to me, crazy is not getting out there and doing what we’re capable of doing,” Miller said. 

Each swim, he accomplished more than he thought was possible. In Japan, Mother Nature made what was supposed to be an 8-hour swim into 16 hours. 

“Every hour after hour I was being told, ‘you’re five miles. You’re five miles. You’re five miles,’ and that’s very tough when you’re just getting beaten out there by very tough waves,” Miller said. 

Beaten, but always resilient — that’s the message he wants to send to men and women in their infancy of adulthood. 

“I don’t have like that perfect Michael Phelps body or anything about me. You know, I think my physical therapist looks at my legs and my flexibility and says, ‘how do you run the way you do, or how do you swim the way you do?’ Ultimately, it comes down to the power of the mind,” Miller said. 

Students said Miller helped them realize that they all have a superpower. 

“Life is struggle, but the good way to move forward is to accept it and transcend it into something meaningful and worth pursuing.,” said Long Nguyen, Penn State-Harrisburg student. 

“Some of us run 100 mile footraces and swim the English Channel. Others maybe just helping people across the street every day, putting on a smile, giving someone a hug. I mean, ultimately that’s what we need more in this world.,” Miller said. 

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