Michael Holtz

DSC_5482-EditMr. Gay USA 2011
Speed. Endurance. Agility. Yes, these are the hallmarks of a champion swimmer, scholar businessman and they are also the characteristics of an inspirational leader. Michael was a high achiever in high school and he has never looked back.

Born in Naples, Florida, where he took to the water and began swimming competitively at age six. Through grueling traning and fierce competition, Michael learned that winning is so much more than just nailing First Place, although he did do that quite a bit. Competitive swimming, along with the training and discipline that it requires, was a journey of enlightenment, learning good sportsmanship, and mastering the art of encouraging others to be their best.

In high school and college, Michael achieved at the highest levels of competitiveness carrying a 3.8 GPA, swimming at a national ranking level and being the drum major of a 300 piece marching band and serving as president of the Student Athletic Committee Conference: The Atlantic 10 conference.

At age 21 Michael became the first openly gay member of the U.S. National Swim. Upon being graduated from Fordham University he received a Mount Batten Fellowship and was accepted as one of only 100 Americans to annually study at Cambridge University in England. He remained in England after receiving his MBA, gained employment at Deutsche Bank and was inspired to swim the English Channel as part of a fund raising team.

His cross-channel inspired Michael upon his return to the States to conceptualize, produce, and implement two of the first-ever, open-water, long-distance swims on the East and West coasts of the United States to raise money for LGBT equality organizations. These great successes led to the development of his own athletic event production company, MKH2O, a business whose goal is to elevate the concept of a nationwide series of open-water swim and athletic events across the country that directly benefit national LGBT organizations that continually battle for equality for and acceptance of the LGBT community.

Michael volunteers and fundraises for numerous LGBT organizations, such as Equality California, GLAAD, and Stonewall Foundation — cumulatively raising over $1 million for these organizations since 2006. Through his active participation and example, he has built a fan base of people of all ages and sexual orientations who collectively collaborate to support the organizations for which he volunteers and supports through MKH2O.

Through it all, Michael has trained, competed and achieved numerous prestigious honors to date. These include: Compete magazine’s Athlete of the Year; Mr. Gay USA 2011; and first runner-up Mr. Gay World 2011. Michael was also the winner of the TNT Reality Series, “72 Honors”. It was really a test of strength, endurance and leadership.  View video:  72HoursMichael

International Olympic and US springboard diving legend Greg Louganis describes Michael as, “A very committed, young, energetic man and a wonderful role model for what is good in the LGBT Community in Sports and Awareness.”

Michael’s public speaking focuses on this triad of skills to teach people how to live their best individual lives and to embrace their uniqueness, essential to empowering their lives and enriching the lives of others — just as he does everyday.