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.

Robert Strauss (USA)

2019

Virginia Hunt Newman Award Sponsored by Kiefer

Johnny Johnson (USA)

2018

Virginia Hunt Newman Award Sponsored by Kiefer

Julie Zancanaro (AUS)

2017

Virginia Hunt Newman Award Sponsored by Kiefer

Lulu Cisneros (MEX)

2016

Virginia Hunt Newman Award Sponsored by Kiefer

Jim Reiser

2015

World Aquatic Babies Network Virginia Hunt Newman Award Sponsored by Kiefer

Torill Hindmarch, M.A.

2014

Torill Hindmarch first started with baby swimming in 1975 in Bristol England.

Beatriz Esearte Pesqueira

2013

Beatriz is an educator who specializes in the role of aquatics in psychomotor development.

Niko Saito

2012

Niko Saito is among the first to introduce baby swimming in Japan.

Laurie Lawrence

2011

Emma and Laurie spent five years documenting and creating www.worldwideswimschool.com as a resource for swimming teachers all round the world

Daniel Zylberberg, Ph.D.

2010

Daniel Zylberberg is a clinical psychologist in Paris, France.

Francoise Freedman, Ph.D.

2009

Françoise Freedman, with a Ph.D. from Cambridge University, has more than twenty years experience teaching and educating instructors in water babies programs from her London area home base.

Jose Fontanelli

2008

Swimming teacher José Fontanelli has a passion for baby swimming.

Yoko Yagishita

2007

Yoko Yagishita exemplifies the spirit of the Virginia Hunt Newman Award and the pioneering, innovative spirit of Virginia herself.

Terje Stakset

2006

Terje Stakset was selected for as the 2006 recipient for his commitment and being a wonderful example of Virginia Newman's gentle methods of teaching babies to swim, giving voice to those not yet able to speak for themselves.

Steve Graves

2005

For many years, Steve Graves has been helping to improve aquatic programs for young children on local, national and international levels.

Rob McKay

2004

Rob McKay has spent 23 years of his adult career devoted to teaching infants to swim.