By Pam LeBlanc
The way Tex Robertson sees it, if he keeps swimming long enough,
they'll have to create a new age group for him.
Robertson, a 1932 Olympian, an All-American swimmer from the University of Michigan and
former Longhorn swim coach, already has collected so many awards that he
can't keep count any more. But at 92, he's not about to quit.
The way Robertson tells the story, he learned to swim in a muddy creek
one spring when he was 12. When summer came and the sun dried things
out, he switched to a horse trough.
Apparently, the training worked.
Robertson later swam at
the University of Michigan in the 1930s, specializing first in the
50-yard freestyle and later in the 220 and 440 freestyle.
he moved to Austin to coach the University of Texas swim team. During
his tenure from 1935-1950, his teams won 13 Southwest Conference titles.
He also coached Adolph Kiefer, who won a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics
Robertson, with his wife Pat, later started Camp Longhorn on Inks Lake in Burnet.
And at age 70, he got back in the water as a competitive swimmer,
joining the U.S. Master's Swimming program. "Before that I tapered for
37 years after getting out of college," he said.
He holds numerous age group records, including those for the 50-meter
freestyle, 57.55; the 100-meter freestyle, 2:20.20; the 200-meter
freestyle, 5:24.60; the 50-meter backstroke, 1:23.69; and the 100-meter
backstroke, 3:00.30, all set in 2000, when he was 91.
Robertson and three other 90-something swimmers still race in the
200 freestyle and medley relays at masters meets, although they've missed recent meets
because of injuries.
"The average age of my competition in the 90 to 95 age group is
deceased," he jokes.
Tex had knee and hip replacement last summer, but just prior to national competition he fell and broke the bone between the two. Just as the injury healed, he broke his leg again.
Still, he says the injury hasn't slowed him down. And, if you were around Camp Longhorn you'd know that were true. Tex still has his hand in the everyday workings of his camp. And, as for his swimming–he still swims for exercise, and plans to compete again.
"If you see an old guy up there drooping on one side, that's me," he
said. "I'll be the oldest guy in the nationals, and I'll swim on the
He says he sticks with swimming for two reasons č he loves it and it
keeps him alive.
LeBlanc is a staff writer for the Austin American-Statesman and swims
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