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 2013
Virginia Hunt Newman International Award winner...

Beatriz Esearte Pesqueira Beatriz Esearte Pesqueira

Beatriz is an educator who specializes in the role of aquatics in psychomotor development. She is the founder and general director of Acuarela Natación Formativa in Oaxaca, México (Acuarela). The seed for Acuarela was planted in 1988, when Beatriz rehabilitated an abandoned backyard family pool, founded her swim school, Acuarela, Escuela de Natación, and launched her dream with an initial class of 26 students and 3 employees.

Throughout its evolution, Acuarela’s story is one of meeting challenges, confronting obstacles and nurturing and spreading the enduring belief that water can be a very powerful tool in educational development, helping to create better human beings and societies. In developing Acuarela, she has come to learn and appreciate the wisdom and experience of her pre-Hispanic ancestors of hundreds of years ago, who accorded special honor and respect to the water as a being and understood the strength, vitality and emotional and physical health that we can derive from natural, confident and wise movement in the water.

She designed a very unique pool where babies and young children can naturally adapt to water through their own sensations, feelings, thoughts and movements; generating awareness in the parents of the importance of communication in the present moment with the water and their babies.

Acuarela first gained attention as a result of Beatriz’s social work, in which she invited some of Oaxaca’s homeless
and abandoned children – street children -- to experience water and take swim lessons. In just one year, these children reduced their use of prescription and non-prescription medications to treat various ailments by 75%.

She presented at the 2nd World Aquatic Babies Congress (WABC) in Los Angeles, California in 1993, where she spoke about her social commitment to providing access to swim lessons to children from all economic backgrounds and not only to the privileged members of society.

In 1997, Beatriz was the lead organizer of the 4th World Congress of Baby Aquatic Education attended by 450 professionals from 23 countries, with 26 leaders in the field of baby and child psychomotor development in the aquatics who presented.

Thereafter she has focused on studying and sharing information and knowledge with other professionals as a featured speaker at many conferences and workshops in numerous countries through the reach of the World Aquatic Babies & Children Network, including bringing that knowledge to her beloved country and her city of Oaxaca.


Previous Award Recipients...

2012 Niko Saito
2011 Laurie Lawrence
2010 Daniel Zylberberg, Ph.D.
2009 Francoise Freedman, Ph.D.
2008 José Fontanelli
2007 Yoko Yagishita
2006 Terje Stakset
2005 Steve Graves
2004 Rob McKay


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