One Good Flip Turn Deserves Another

BY ALEXANDRIA RANDOLPH/BURNET BULLETIN

As Billy Robertson said, his father Tex Robertson grew up in Sweetwater and “got hooked on swimming in muddy creeks.”

His passion for swimming and educating swimmers led to a lifelong career and a dedication to the Burnet community.

Tex worked tirelessly to help the community, his son said, including helping to open a Burnet City swimming pool in 1962 and helping to organize the Texas Swimming Association in the early 1970s.

“When the Burnet pool was built we had Aqua Carnivals for 12 or 14 years,” Robertson said. “The were one of the highlights of springtime. There were beauty contest competitions – so many great people were involved.”

Burnet City officials, YMCA officials and community members honored Tex's life work in a rededication ceremony at the Tex Robertson Swimming Pool in the YMCA of the Highland Lakes in Burnet on Friday, April 1, which officials playful regarded, 'April Pool's Day.'

The rededication followed the completion of an $120,000, intensive resurfacing project in the facility's aquatic center in early March, which according to city officials was several years overdue.

The ceremony was attended by about 100 people, including two-time Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Ricky Berens, four renown divers, and the Burnet YMCA Tex's Waves youth swim team.

YMCA of Greater Williamson County CEO Jeff Andresen presented a poem he had written at the ceremony to praise the relationship between YMCA officials and the city officials who helped organize the transition of the facility from the Galloway-Hammond Recreation Center to the YMCA of the Highland Lakes.

“Burnet has got an 'Auntie Mabel,' and it's your own dear Bill Robertson,” Andresen recited. “The years of sweat and swim caps were bigger than it all.”

Burnet City Mayor Pro Tem Philip Thurman honored the citizens present.

“I see all you people who had the vision before the city had the vision. You people made it happen,” he said. “The city of Burnet has a fabulous YMCA. We have more people that use this than ever in the past.”

Tex, an Olympic bronze medalist on the US Water Polo Team in 1932, also started the University of Texas swim team and established Camp Longhorn in 1939 on Inks Lake, and used University of Texas swim team members as camp counselors. According to an article written by his son Bill in the Sabino Enterprises in 1989, Tex shut the camp down for three years when World War II broke out so he could join the United States Navy, where he trained Underwater Demolition Teams. The International Swimming Hall of Fame credits Tex with the invention of the flip-turn, a technique used by all modern, competition swimmers.

“Dad's dream wasn't to make champion swimmers – dad's dream was to drown-proof everyone in the Hill Country,” Bill Robertson said. “His hope was that there will never be another drowning of any children in the Hill Country. The resource is there – we have lakes and pools. We do all we can to educate the kids. Water is great for sport and great for recreation.”

Tex's dream is still highly necessary according to the recent death of 20-year-old Edward Griffin of San Antonio who drowned after jumping off a dock in Lake LBJ with his friends during Spring Break.

“Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children right now,” said Berens, who shares Tex's drive to educate swimmers. “I was lucky to have the career that I've had, but the thing that stays with me is the passion for swimming. Swimming has taken me to places that I never imagined.” 

 

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