World Class Swimmer and ‘Athletes vs. Epilepsy’ Spokesperson Zach McGinnis Competes in National Championships

Friday, August 8, 2014


Zach McGinnis

LANDOVER, MD - The Epilepsy Foundation, a national organization dedicated to serving all people with seizures, is proud to announce that Athletes vs. Epilepsy spokesperson Zach McGinnis is competing in the USA Swimming 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships & World Championship Trials this week in Irvine, CA.

McGinnis takes to the pool alongside Olympic champions like Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps during the event that serves as the USA National Team selection for the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, 2014 Jr. Pan Pacific Championships, 2015 World Championships, 2015 World University Games and 2015 Pan American Games.

The Athletes vs. Epilepsy initiative of the Epilepsy Foundation offers athletes of all types the opportunity to support people living with epilepsy and seizures through appearances and participation in athletic events at all levels. Former NFL player Geoff Pope and former college teammate Sam Estes, currently an executive/diplomatic protection specialist, are the co-chairs of the initiative.

McGinnis was diagnosed with epilepsy in the fall of 2012 after suffering two seizures in one week.

"Initially after my diagnosis, I was in shock and disbelief about what epilepsy could mean for my future both in sport and life,” said McGinnis. “However, after many conversations with friends, family, and my neurologist, my outlook on life became optimistic. I realized my situation would not end my career in the water. It is my lifelong journey to inspire others suffering from epilepsy and other illnesses to chase their life dreams and live a healthy and fulfilled life."

McGinnis holds the Virginia Tech record in the 100 and 200 yard backstroke events, as well as the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) record in the 100 backstroke. He is also a five-time Honorable Mention All-American, placed on the All-ACC Academic team for three straight years, and is a member of three relay events that hold school records. McGinnis was recognized with a Career Improvement Honor for the 2012-13 College Swimming season.

Initiative Co-Chair and Super Bowl champion Geoff Pope said, "Zach's drive to become one of the best swimmers of our era is enough to make anyone proud; yet, his willingness to speak up publicly about his experiences with epilepsy speaks volumes about his character. Zach is helping make Athletes vs. Epilepsy a great success!"

"Zach McGinnis is an inspiration to everyone who is struggling with epilepsy every day. Zach inspires us to continue the fight on behalf of all people living with epilepsy and to help make new therapies available in a timeframe that matters," said Philip M. Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation.

"The Athletes vs. Epilepsy initiative is focused on awareness, endurance, and community in that it shows athletes as role models who are not being held back by epilepsy, but are giving back to the community in their support of the Epilepsy Foundation. And we hope to show that anyone can be an athlete taking on epilepsy. From high school basketball players to bowling league members, anyone can join the cause," Gattone added.

About Epilepsy

When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy, which affects more than 2 million people in the United States and 65 million people worldwide. This year, another 200,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite all available treatments, four out of 10 people with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures while many more experience less than optimal seizure control.

About the Epilepsy Foundation

The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to stop seizures and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), find a cure and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy through efforts including education, advocacy and research to accelerate ideas into therapies. The Foundation works to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential.

To learn more about epilepsy, visit 'Like' the Epilepsy Foundation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. To follow Zach's journey, 'Like' Zach McGinnis-Ziggy on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


Contact Name: 
Kenneth Lowenberg | Vice President of Communications and Digital Strategy
Contact Phone: 
(301) 918-3773
Contact Email: 

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

24/7 helpline