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.  


Dr. Christine Stopka

Dr. Christine Stopka

When it comes to educating and preparing individuals to teach and work in the field of adapted
aquatics, Dr. Christine Stopka is the teacher of teachers. She is a passionate and productive professional who is a dedicated advocate for training, instruction and promoting grassroots efforts in the field. She is one of only 12 persons officially educating and training Adapted Aquatics Instructors in the United States and in over 20 years of teaching, she has developed programs that involve not only public schools, but local parks and recreation as well.

Dr. Stopka was trained as a Master Teacher of Adapted Aquatics through the American Association of Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance and the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation. She has taken and implemented the program to fit adapted aquatics programs at the University of Florida and for the past decade has been credentialing instructors and assistants in the field. She has worked hard to adapt, implement and evaluate lessons for children and teens with disabilities in order to give her instructor candidates a safe and effective “practicum” experience. She has touched thousands of lives through her work with undergraduate and graduate students who have taken her university classes and worked in her clinics.

For the past ten years, she has been the reviewer of the textbook Adapted Aquatics Programming and has written numerous journal articles to explain equipment modifications for children and teens with disabilities. She has contributed to the World Congress on Disability with numerous presentations to both professionals and parents. She speaks in a very articulate fashion and exhibits a positive energy and future vision for adapted aquatics.

Previous Award Recipients...
Mary O. Wykle, Ph.D

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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