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 2004
  Virginia Hunt Newman International Award winner...



Rob McKay has spent 23 years of his adult career devoted to teaching infants to swim. It is no accident that it was also 23 years ago that Rob first met and was inspired by Virginia Hunt Newman.

Virginia’s pioneering advocacy of a gentle, positive approach to teaching infants to swim instilled in Rob a passion to create the most stimulating, child-friendly, educationally sound and developmentally appropriate swim school possible.

Rob’s mission along with his wife Kathy has resulted in his nationally acclaimed Lifestyle Swim School in Boca Raton, Florida; his instructional video series, “Diaper Dolphins;” an upcoming book entitled Baby Swim School, published by DK Publishing of London; and an informational website, “Baby Swimming – the Gentle Journey” at

The McKays have authored and been the featured subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles nationally and internationally. Rob and Virginia were featured in a video press release on infant swimming for the national product release of Huggies brand “Little Swimmers” diapers. They also appeared together in the Discovery Channel’s World of Wonder program which aired in 50 countries during a five-year period. Japan’s Nippon television network featured Rob, Kathy and their baby students in a special entitled “Charismatic Teachers.”

A frequent speaker at national and international conferences and workshops, Rob is a board member of the World Aquatic Baby Congress and a member of the Congress of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He is a charter member of the National Swim School Association. McKay has trained numerous teachers in his gentle, child-paced, non-traumatic methods both from across the U.S. and around the world including Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines.

A former high school All-American swimmer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and a collegiate scholar-athlete for Florida State University, Rob also held records as a Masters swimmer and continues to swim for health and fitness. Rob learned to swim at the age of three.

Greg LouganisEraldo

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