John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award
Honoring An Individual Serving Persons With Disabilities

Established in 1994 by the Adaptive Aquatics Committee of the International Swimming Hall of Fame this award honors an individual who has made significant and substantial contributions to the field of adaptive aquatics (aquatics for persons with disabilities) as a participant, athlete, teacher, instructor, coach, organizer, administrator or media representative.  


Mary O. Wykle, Ph.D.

Dr. Mary Wykle knows the benefits of using water for rehabilitative and therapy purposes. Within her life-long involvement with all aspects of aquatics she has designed and implemented numerous programs which aid individuals in need of rehabilitative measures.

Starting as a swimming instructor at Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, Kansas, in the 1970's, she integrated adapted aquatics' techniques into her courses to meet the needs of many students with chronic medical conditions. She began working with breast cancer survivors in the water.

In the 1980's, she began to focus more on rehabilitating orthopedic injuries and surgeries. Today, Dr. Wykle has become a dominate force in promoting the use of the aquatic medium in rehabilitating injured military personnel. The wife of a retired general, Mary arranged to meet both the U.S. Surgeon General of the Army and the Army's Chief Physical Therapist about the benefits of using the aquatic medium in treating injured solders and providing training and rehab in aquatic therapy for solders in Iraq and Afghanistan. This has led to her spearheading the initiation of aquatic rehab training for solders with overuse orthopedic injuries in Iraq. Programs are set up at various hospitals including the main program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. In April 2006, she gave the White House Wellness Briefing on the benefits of aquatic therapy and exercise to broaden the awareness of positive aquatic activities. She has published numerous articles on aquatic therapy in the military including her book, Transitioning Yoga and Pilates Between Land and Water, along with videos, standards and position papers.

Currently an assistant professor at Northern Virginia Community College, Mary earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Physical Education at West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at Saint Louis University. She is the Chairman of various aquatic therapy committees and has developed Safety Standards and Guidelines for Therapy Pools, Safety Standards For Aquatic Therapy Practitioners and trademarked a course as Aqua Pi-Yo-Chi utilizing Yoga, Pilates and Ai Chi. She developed the RAST (Risk Awareness and Safety Training) Course providing instructors and practitioners with tools to evaluate and modify their practice facility and ways to work with clients and participants. The course provides basic safety information and underlines special skills for use in therapeutic and rehab situations. It is used by national organizations such as Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute, USA Swimming and Aquatic Exercise Association. She wrote the comprehensive manual upon which the course is based.

She developed an international aquatic program “Aqua Pi-Yo-Chi” which serves those persons in need of balance and core strength. The program, as well as her workshops in Balance and Gait-retraining, Lumbar/Pelvic Stability for Spinal Fusions, Ai Chi for Lower Extremity Amputees, Aquatic Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis, Essentials for Aquatic Programming, Transitioning Sports Rehab to Water, Grounding Ai Chi and Program Validation through Research in Aquatic Therapy provide state-of-theart education for adults who work with individuals with disabilities.

Mary is the founder of MW Aquatics offering specialized consulting in aquatic health and safety and MW Associates, consultants in aquatics and health management. She is a member of various advisory committees and boards including the Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute, Inc.; International Council for Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Industry Accreditation Committee and the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity representing the United States Water Fitness Association. She has served as Area Chairman of the American Red Cross in Japan, Okinawa, Philippines, Guam, South Korea, Germany, and throughout the Middle East and Europe. At Scott Air Force Base, Mary implemented a health living program “Turn Unwanted Fat into Fitness” (TUFF). It was selected as the best program in the U.S. Air Force. She developed a program for military spouses to improve time management, stress management, leadership, team building and protocol. In Seoul, South Korea, she trained solders in First Aid, CPR, Lifeguarding and as Water Safety Instructors.

She has published eleven manuals and twenty-three articles on aquatic therapy, rehab, nutrition and general fitness.

Previous Award Recipients...
Phillip Conatser

John Spannuth

Dori Maxon

Elizabeth "Libby" Andersen

Anne Green

Dr. Monica Lepore

Uri Bergman


Dr. Julian Stein 

Mary Essert (El Cerrito, CA)
Mary Essert is the founder of Mary Essert and Associates, maker of many videos and tapes on water fitness, founder of "Move It or Lose It" and active with Grace Reynolds at the YMCA.

Ruth Sova (Port Washington, WI)
Ruth Sova is founder of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) and the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab. Institution.  She is a well-known entrepreneur and speaker around the world.

Louise Priest (Indianapolis, IN)
Louise Priest is the mother of adaptive aquatics.  She wrote the Red Cross aquatic materials and is now Director of Communications with the Jeff Ellis Organization.

Grace Reynolds (Longview, WA)
Grace Reynolds was head of "Swimming for Special Populations" for the national YMCA for years and head of "Project Aquatics" and "Project Aquatics Mainstreaming".  She is founder/president of Disability International Foundation (DIF).

John K. Williams, Jr. (San Diego, CA)
John K. Williams, Jr. graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. degree in Therapeutic Recreation and is now an aquatic consultant.  Speaker at numerous workshops on Adaptive Aquatics, he spends his summers working at Camp Able.


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