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John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award

John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award



Over a distinguished career spanning more than thirty years in adaptive aquatics, Uri Bergman has contributed in virtually all areas basic to the award.  He has been a very successful paralympic swimmer and an excellent teacher and leader of adapted aquatics in Israel.  As both therapist and swimming coach, he has practiced adapted aquatics with diverse populations including individuals with physical, learning and mental disabilities.  Currently he is the coordinator of the teacher’s in-service course for Rehabilitative Swimming and Hydrotherapy in the School of Inservice Studies at Zinman College of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the Wingate Institute, Netanya, Israel.


As a lower extremity amputee, Uri’s disability engaged him into the aquatics world.  He competed in four Paralympic competitions (1976, ‘80, ‘84, ‘88) winning a combined 12 gold medals in swimming events.  He was the coach of the Israeli National Handicapped Swimming Team (1984, ‘88), the National Water Polo Team winning the gold at the 11th Hapoel Games (1979) and the 13th Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv (1993).  He has been an inspiration to a generation of swimmers with disabilities whose international achievements continue to be impressive.


Bergman attended the Kibbutz Teachers College, Tel Aviv University and the Wingate Institute earning degrees in physical education, social work, psychiatric rehabilitation and coaching.  He has put these degrees to use in many ways, some of which include: physical education instructor and mental health officer for the Israel Defense Forces, Director of Summer Camps for Children and Adults with cerebral palsy and Water Polo Instructor at the Beit Halochem Center for Disabled War Veterans.  Besides coaching swimming to disabled athletes, he specializes working with students of cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, paraplegics, amputees, the deaf, mentally retarded and the blind.  He works with Special Olympics Israel and serves as its Chairman of the Aquatics Professional Committee.  He recently (1999) served as international aquatics referee at the Special Olympics Summer Games held in North Carolina (USA).


He has been responsible for the Rehabilitative Swimming and Hydrotherapy Teachers’ Course at the Zinman College.  This includes rehabilitative swimming and hydrotherapy and qualifies these teachers to serve as swimming instructors for students in rehabilitation swimming courses.  Since 1989, he has published over 20 articles on all phases of Adaptive Aquatics which appeared in various professional journals throughout the world.


Uri fulfills his endeavors conscientiously and with a high degree of commitment, deep concern and responsibility.  He treats his disabled students and children with humility and warmth, and creates a friendly and cooperative working atmosphere with other coaches and staff.  He has shown to be a person of great competence in working in the areas of physical activity, sports and recreation for individuals with a disability.

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