John Spannuth, former President of United States Water Fitness Association and a long-time participant in many areas of aquatics, passed away in Delray Beach, Fla. Dec. 19.

The cause was heart attack. He was 89.

In addition to his position with USWFA, Spannuth was a long-time swimming administrator and played a key role in the formation of U.S. Masters Swimming.

In his 60-plus-year career, he touched most aspects of aquatics. But his passion for water began some 80 years ago, after he nearly drowned as a small child. Shortly after, he learned to swim. As an older child, he joined a swim team, taught swimming and worked as a lifeguard and camp waterfront director.

In 1956, he became Aquatics Director of the Reading, Pa, YMCA. He later served as Aquatics Director and Head Swimming Coach for Phillips Petroleum Co. in Bartlesville, Okla., where he became known for developing one of the country's best age-group swim teams.

Career highlights included time as the National Aquatics Administrator for the Amateur Athletic Union. In 1970, he organized and directed The First Annual National Masters Swimming Meet. More importantly, he also helped convince the AAU to accept Masters swimming as a recognized and official national program in 1971.

He was International Director of the Special Olympics in Washington, D.C., and is credited with helping it gain international recognition. John served four years in the Middle East as Aquatics, Sports and Recreation Administrator in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

In his role with the U. S. Water Fitness Association, he established guidelines that have contributed to the development of standards for water aerobics and fitness instruction.

He had a hand in founding many programs in the aquatics field, including, among others, The World Swimming Coaches Clinic, which became the largest international coaches conference in the world; Masters Synchronized Swimming; and Water Walking as a program; and National Aquatics Director Certification.