John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award
Honoring An Individual Serving Persons With Disabilities

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.  


Bruce Becker, M.D., M.S. (USA)

Bruce Becker, M.D., M.S.

For the past 30 years, Dr. Bruce E. Becker has been studying the effects of the water and aquatic activities on people with disabilities, athletes and people recovering from injuries and aliments. His research underscores that when it comes to maximizing exercise and rehabilitive recovery, water exercise plays a valuable role. Dr. Becker’s research has found that simply being submerged in water up to the neck increases cardiac output by more that 30 percent in a sedentary individual. Sitting in water neck-deep, the hydrostatic pressure on the body increases cardiac volume by nearly one-third, increasing cardiac output by 32% at rest and proving that water exercise is aerobically efficient.

By combining physical medicine rationale and aquatic rehabilitation, Dr. Becker forms a scientific theory with set clinical procedures using water immersion for the restoration of physical mobility and physiologic activity.

For example, he has shown that the aquatic environment produces physiologic changes that help remove metabolic waste, improve cardiac function, lower blood pressure, and assist the body in tissue healing as well as aiding the circulatory, pulmonary and musculo-skeletal systems.

Dr. Becker’s school and university course work includes: Fargo Central High School (diploma) (1961); Iowa State University (BS) (1965); University of North Dakota (BS Medicine) (1967); Tulane University (Doctor of Medicine) (1969); U. of Washington (MS Rehabilitation Medicine) (1976) and Post Graduate Course at Ohio State University in Electrodiagnosis and Electromyography (1976). He has medical licensures in the states of Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Montana and Idaho. He has been associated with thirteen hospitals in three states. His academic affiliations include University of Oregon (Associate Professor) (1978-1985); U. of Washington (Dept. of Rehabilitation Medicine) (1985-2001); Wayne State University School of Medicine (1993-1997); Washington State University (2004-present). From 1970-1975, he served in the U.S. Military as a Medical Officer rising to the rank of Major. He has been listed Who’s Who in Aquatic Leadership by the U.S. Water Fitness Association and Aquatics International magazine. Since 1975, he has published over 91 publications, chapters, abstracts and research papers. He has delivered over 203 presentations at conferences and symposiums on topics including: “Biomechanics and Therapeutic Exercises in Water”, “Aquatic Therapy and the Amputee”, “Aquaphysiology: The Cardiovascular Benefits of Immersion”, “Aquatic Therapy: The Scientific Rationale” and “Biophysiologic Aspects of Hydrotherapy”.

While at Wayne State University in 1997, Dr. Becker along with Andrew Cole edited their first of three editions of Comprehensive Aquatic Therapy, a composite of research and innovation studies by researchers in the field. Becker has promoted the transfer of medical treatment efficiently into the community setting, building fitness and conditioning as a lifestyle and rebuilding the community pool into a health and wellness center integrated with the health care system.

Previous Award Recipients...
Ruth Ann Hood Wieser, Ph.D.

Sue Grosse

Dr. Christine Stopka

Mary O. Wykle, Ph.D

Phillip Conatser

John Spannuth

Dori Maxon

Elizabeth "Libby" Andersen

Anne Green

Dr. Monica Lepore

Uri Bergman


Dr. Julian Stein 

Mary Essert (El Cerrito, CA)
Mary Essert is the founder of Mary Essert and Associates, maker of many videos and tapes on water fitness, founder of "Move It or Lose It" and active with Grace Reynolds at the YMCA.

Ruth Sova (Port Washington, WI)
Ruth Sova is founder of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) and the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab. Institution.  She is a well-known entrepreneur and speaker around the world.

Louise Priest (Indianapolis, IN)
Louise Priest is the mother of adaptive aquatics.  She wrote the Red Cross aquatic materials and is now Director of Communications with the Jeff Ellis Organization.

Grace Reynolds (Longview, WA)
Grace Reynolds was head of "Swimming for Special Populations" for the national YMCA for years and head of "Project Aquatics" and "Project Aquatics Mainstreaming".  She is founder/president of Disability International Foundation (DIF).

John K. Williams, Jr. (San Diego, CA)
John K. Williams, Jr. graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. degree in Therapeutic Recreation and is now an aquatic consultant.  Speaker at numerous workshops on Adaptive Aquatics, he spends his summers working at Camp Able.


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