Schwimmer A Winner On 'Dance'

Benji Schwimmer, a 22-year-old from Redlands, Calif., was crowned the winner of the second season of the Fox's reality show, "So You Think You Can Dance" on Wednesday night.

Schwimmer was already a champion coming into the competition, having won the 2005 U.S. Open Swing Dance Championship. He learned his dance moves from his parents, Buddy and Laurie Schwimmer, who own a dance studio in his hometown.

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Schwimmer started a charitable non-profit organization called D.E.M.A.N.D. (Dancers Everywhere Making A Needed Difference) after completing his mission for the church in Oaxaca, Mexico. The charity helps orphans in southern Mexico as well as dancers with injuries. He hopes to continue fundraising efforts for the charity.

Schwimmer was one of four dancers who made it to the two-part finale. Last Wednesday, Heidi Groskreutz, Travis Wall, and Donyelle Jones performed along with Schwimmer in a performance episode that lasted two hours.

After the show ended, viewers called voting lines or voted on the show's official Web site for their favorite dancers. Fox said in a statement that viewers cast nearly 16 million votes.

Wednesday's grand finale results episode, which was also two hours, included performances by each of the final four as well as a reunion of finalists who were voted off the show in weeks past.

Groskreutz, who happens to be Schwimmer's cousin and dance partner, was eliminated first on Wednesday, followed by Jones. Musical guests Ciara and Fergie both performed, as the show dragged on to the announcement of the winner.

That left Wall and Schwimmer, who became close friends during the competition, as the final two contestants.

Wall was praised by the judges throughout the season as a strong dancer with excellent technique. Schwimmer, on the other hand, does not have classical training — but judges said his effervescent personality and performance ability won them over every time.

Both were praised for their ability to go out of their element and handle dance styles that were new to them, such as hip-hop, Broadway, and waltz. They gave an encore of a hip-hop duet they did on the final performance episode last week that showed their versatility and skill.

At approximately 9:59 p.m. ET, Schwimmer was crowned the winner. He won a $100,000 cash prize, a hybrid SUV and a one-year contract with Celine Dion's Las Vegas show, "A New Day."

Schwimmer and the other finalists will hit the road for a sold-out "So You Think You Can Dance" tour that begins Sept. 12.

By Judy Faber