Bob Kerper’s book, Splash! Aquatic Shows from A to Z is a treasured reference book for producers of aquatic
shows, patrons of aquatic shows and swimming buffs in general. It is an overview of many of the major
aquatic shows produced in the United States as well as a few shows overseas. He has taken ideas and concepts
from most of the experts in the field based on their actual experiences as coaches, teachers and performers
and placed them into one, easy-to-read source. For those interested in not only knowing what goes
on behind the scenes of aquatic shows and exhibitions, but also how to produce these shows, this book provides
useful information and tips from a host of knowledgeable and experienced people.
As a youngster, Kerper’s earliest recollection being on the pool deck, was to watch others perform. Whether it was laughing at divers
doing some “crazy dives” from the boards or being engulfed in a professionally-cast water show, comedy and entertainment at poolside
always brought a sense of fun, relaxation, laughter and total amazement. His interest in water shows spiraled when he attended the 1939
World’s Fair Billy Rose Aquacade in Flushing Meadow, New York, starring heroes JohnnyWeissmuller and Eleanor Holm. Two years
later, he was producing his own water shows at the local pool in Reading, Pennsylvania. It was John Spannuth, his next-door neighbor
for 30 years and childhood friend in West Reading, Pennsylvania, who encouraged Bob to organize and publish his thoughts in a written
text. Splash contains three parts: Part One - a review of major professional and amateur water shows including those at high schools,
colleges, YMCA’s, etc.; Part Two - a look at how to produce water shows with little experience; and Part Three - chapters on history, swimming
around the world, military aquatics, aquatic personalities, etc.
Kerper is a two-time Pennsylvania State High School backstroke champion in 1941 and 1942, a national prep school champion at Mercersburg Academy
in 1943 and a two-time MiddleAtlantic States Collegiate champion in the backstroke and individual medley at West
Chester University. He is a 1985 “Distinguished Alumni” of West Chester University. As a U.S. Navy physical training instructor in
World War II, Bob taught thousands of new recruits to swim and survive in the water. He worked with the
American Red Cross and YMCA as instructor/trainer and coached swimming and taught classes at his alma
mater, The Mercersburg Academy.
During the 1950’s he developed a series of water shows on the Schuylkill River and called them “The Rivercade”,
for which he was named one of four “Outstanding Young Men” in Pennsylvania in 1955. He was a pioneer
in the use of SCUBA in eastern Pennsylvania. He has been active in the YMCA for over 65 years and
was a member of the National YMCABoard of Directors for six years. He was also founder and general manager
of Reading’s largest summertime event, “Scenic River Days”, for eight years, presenting shows attracting
up to 100,000 people in a five-day period.