Virginia Hunt Newman International Award


Virginia Hunt Newman has been called “The Mother of Infant Swimming.” She pioneered and focused worldwide attention on the non-forceful, non-traumatic method of teaching infants and preschool-age children to swim, earning great respect as an innovator in the field. She began her swimming career at the Indianapolis Athletic Club. From 1940 to 1948 she was a diver for the Los Angeles Athletic Club, winning swimming and diving titles. She performed in water shows with Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe for the USO. In 1950, Virginia wrote and directed a series of springboard diving films while working as an aquatic director and swimming coach at the Black Fox Military Academy in Los Angeles.

In 1962, she gained international attention when her star student, Bing Crosby’s daughter Mary Frances, passed the Red Cross Beginner Test at age two – the youngest ever to be awarded the certificate. Red Cross Honorary Chairman Johnny Weissmuller presented the certificate to Mary Frances on national television, with coverage by “Life,” “Look” and “Time” magazines. This was the catalyst for Virginia to compile her methods of non-traumatic teaching in her 1967 book, Teaching an Infant to Swim, a bestseller published in England, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Japan.

Teaching Young Children to Swim and Dive was published in 1969. Its method of teaching swimming by distracting children from normal fears associated with learning has been emulated by thousands of instructors worldwide. Some of the thousands of children taught by Virginia include those of John Wayne, Bob Hope, Alan Ladd, Bob Newhart, Sonny & Cher, Shari Lewis, and Danny DeVito & Rhea Pearlman. She has conducted numerous national and world clinics and workshops on teaching children to swim.

Presenting the 2010
Virginia Hunt Newman International Award winner...

Daniel Zylberberg Daniel Zylberberg, Ph.D.

Daniel Zylberberg is a clinical psychologist in Paris, France. He works with children in a psychiatric hospital and teaches infant psychology at the Medical University of Paris XIII.

In the early 1980's he established an experimental babies swimming program using his training as a clinical psychologist.  France had few such programs and awareness of their benefits.  He conducted research focused on observing the natural and spontaneous behaviors in infants while participating in an aquatic classroom environment. With friends, doctors, teachers and students, programs were established at additional aquatic centers and were well received.

Zylberberg has been a leader in educating teachers and program directors as they establish and operate infant aquatic programs. In 1974 he was a leader in the founding of the French FAAEL (Awakening and Leisure Aquatic Federation). Today there are over 1000 aquatic centers throughout France with baby programs and many times more certified baby swimming teachers.  Daniel was the French delegate and a lecturer at the 2nd World Aquatic Babies Congress (WABC) in Los Angeles in 1993 speaking on integrating babies with disabilities into aquatic programs.  He spoke at the 3rd WABC in Melbourne (1995) on making curriculum more physically active and enriching as well as the 4th Congress in Oaxaca, Mexico (1997) on the researched benefits of babies being active in the unique environment water provides. 

Zylberberg was the moderator and lead organizer of the 5th WABC Conference in Toulouse, France (1999)
- attended by over 500 professionals from 27 countries. He has consulted on teacher training programs in Italy with the WISP, in Spain with the SEAE, and in Argentina with FAEP - all national swim teacher education
organizations.  He has lectured in Norway, Finland and Germany.

Daniel is the author of numerous books and articles. "The Babies in the Pool" (title translated in English) has been translated also into Japanese and "The Ages of Swimming" (translation) is published in French and Italian.  He has been seen on numerous French television programs featuring swimming babies. Since 2008, Zylberberg has served as expert advisor to the French Swimming Federation's special commission on baby and children learn to swim programs.

He has been inspired by Dr. Maria Montessori's learning philosophies and theories including the importance of teachers and parents working to shape the learning environment and help the baby or child do things for themselves. Daniel's approach encourages spontaneous behavior and positive interaction between babies, young children and their parents.

Previous Award Recipients...

2009 Francoise Freedman, Ph.D.
2008 José Fontanelli
2007 Yoko Yagishita
2006 Terje Stakset
2005 Steve Graves
2004 Rob McKay


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