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John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award

John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award

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.

2003 Elizabeth “Libby” Andersen


Elizabeth “Libby” Andersen is the consummate professional whose interests vary from swimming programs for a variety of different types of individuals to fitness programs for all types of individuals. Her professional development shows a long-standing commitment to swimming programs for individuals with disabilities. This commitment to swimming for the disabled is natural, as she is indeed herself a swimmer.

Her involvement with swimming for the disabled started with the San Diego County Chapter of the American Red Cross’s “Adapted Aquatics Class” taught by Dr. Peter Aufsesser. Later, she became the instructor/trainer for that course, and even when the National Red Cross dropped the program, the San Diego County Chapter continued to offer the class with Libby as the instructor/trainer.


Libby’s role in leadership positions in swimming goes far beyond the local level. A member of United States Swimming and Chair of its Adapted Swimming Committee from 1980-1996, she has been one of the leaders in the field. In 1996, she was Chair of the Team Selection Committee for the Paralympic Swim Trials held in Indianapolis and worked as the liaison between United States Swimming. and the Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee to support swimming competition.


Libby is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Physical Education and Recreation. Since 1990, she has been the Associate Professor of Adapted Physical Education at San Diego Community College District-City College where she has developed new curriculum in sport and fitness, created training manuals and workshops for instructional aides, networked with community organizations and lectured for Fitness Certificate Programs on special populations. She spent three years as an Adjunct Instructor of Adapted Physical Education at Southwestern Community College and developed curriculum and course outlines for new classes as well as identifying needs for the college Disabled Student Services Program. She has been a Recreation Therapist, working with head injuries, and a hospital Senior Recreation Therapist responsible for supervising staff and treating patients.


Libby started as a San Diego Parks and Recreation Swimming Pool Manager and Head Coach of the A.A.U. swimming team in 1970. While working as a graduate assistant at San Diego State in 1978, she started teaching classes in swimming and other sports for students with disabilities. She expanded to an adult educator in aged disabled programs in retirement homes and convalescent hospitals. She became an Adjunct Adapted Physical Education Instructor, developing and teaching classes in swimming, weight training, aquatic exercise and individual adaptives. She was a Recreation and Sports Coordinator for United Cerebral Palsy of San Diego County responsible for coordinating community recreation programs for teens and adults.


She is a member of the International Paralympic Rules Committee for Swimming contributing to the development of swimming rules for international competition under the functional classification system. She has been the Head Swim Coach of the 1992 and 1988 Paralympic Teams in Barcelona and Seoul respectively. As a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association, she was Head Swim Coach for the 1990 World Games for the Disabled in Assen, Netherlands and the Cerebral Palsy Games in Belgium. She has been the swim meet director for various competitions for disabled.


Libby has authored Swimming to Win, Training Guide to Cerebral Palsy Sports (1988), now in its third edition. She is also editor of United States Swimming’s Adapted Competitive Swimming Handbook (1989).


Libby is a leader and has shown a long-term commitment to improving swimming programs for individuals with disabilities. Her combination of teaching, coaching and leadership has been an outstanding recipe for success and improvement in adapted aquatics.

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