2000 Paragon Award / Recreational Swimming
For over 44 years, John Spannuth has been a leader and innovator in almost every field of aquatics, the most recent in recreational and fitness swimming as the CEO of United States Water Fitness, Inc.
From his first, full-time job in aquatics in 1956 as Aquatics Director of the Reading, PA, YMCA, he has developed outstanding programs. He has been the Aquatics Director and Head Swimming Coach for Phillips Petroleum Co. in Barltesville, Oklahoma where in seven years he developed one of the best age group swim teams in the country. He was the National Aquatics Administrator for the AAU where, on a national level, he guided all four disciplines plus long distance and Masters swimming. He was the International Director of the Special Olympics in Washington, DC where he guided the growth of Special Olympics for Eunice Shriver and helped to build it into an internationally recognized program for persons with mental disabilities. He served four years in the Middle East as Aquatics, Sports and Recreation Administrator in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while teaching swimming on all levels, including competitive swimming to native children of the region.
John is the creator and founder of many innovative programs and conferences including: The World Swimming Coaches Clinic 1969, which has grown into the largest international coaches conference in the world and is run by the American Swimming Coaches Association; Masters Swimming 91970) where he implemented Ransom Arthur's ideas and decrees to begin a competitive fitness program for adults; Masters Synchronized Swimming (1975); National YMCA Masters Aquatic Championship (1976); Water Walking as a program (1986), which began a water fitness program for individuals who were not great swimmers or who needed water therapy work; National Aquatic Directors Certification (1996); National Programs Awards (recognizing the top programs in the country), Top Water Fitness Programs (1990), Top Aquatic Programs (1997); Who's Who In The Country, Aquatics (1997) and Water Exercise (1998); and National and State Leadership Awards (1990).
Other national leadership positions have included: Chairperson of the 1998 National Aquatics Summit; President of the American Swimming Coaches Association; Member of the Board of Directors, International Swimming Hall of Fame; NRPA Aquatics Council; Charter Member of the AAHPERD Aquatics Council (1968); Chairperson of the National Forum for the Advancement of Aquatics; Advisory Board, Disability International Foundation.
Honors John has received are: Level 5 Certified swimming coach; Captain Ransom J. Arthur Award presented by U.S. Masters Swimming (1986) and Life Membership in the American Swimming Coaches Association (1969), U.S.A. Swimming (1985), International Swimming Hall of Fame and the Amateur Athletic Union (1968). Additionally he has received a National YMCA Leadership Fellowship (1976); YMCA Senior Directorship (1978); National Parks and Recreation Distinguished Service Award (1992); National Fitness Leaders Association, C. Carson Conrad Award (1993) and Sevier-McCayhill National Award (1997) (for outstanding service to youth with disabilities).
He has lectured extensively in Egypt, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, Germany and throughout the United States at conferences for over 20 organizations. As the CEO of U.S. Water Fitness, Inc. he has set the guidelines which have developed this organization to be the authority in developing and maintaining standards from which to teach water aerobics and fitness on a recreational level.