Categorized | Community, Sports, Swimming

Grandson of Burnet County icon dives into biography of ‘Father of Texas Swimming’

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — Growing up at Camp Longhorn, Ross Lucksinger always knew there was something special about his grandfather, the late Tex Robertson.

“There were so many stories around him,” Lucksinger said. “He was such an amazing man.”

Two years ago, Lucksinger began delving into his grandfather’s past. The journey led him to an Olympic swimmer and countless other people who shared stories about how Robertson shaped their lives. After a year of research and then a year of writing, Lucksinger recently released his book, “Tex: The Father of Texas Swimming.”

The Burnet Consolidated Independent School District’s Parent Resource Center is hosting a meet-the-author event Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. for people to come out, meet Lucksinger and hear him talk about his grandfather.

The resource center is located at 202 E. Brier St.

Part of the impetus behind the book was to determine how many of the stories Lucksinger heard about his grandfather were accurate and not stretches.

IF YOU GO
WHAT: Program with Ross Lucksinger, the author of “Tex: The Father of Texas Swimming”
WHEN: 3 p.m. Nov. 3
WHERE: BCISD Parent Resource Center, 202 E. Brier St. in Burnet

“The tales got so tall and the legend so big, part of it was just trying to find out what was the truth,” Lucksinger said. “It turns out, most of it was actually true.”

Robertson is a Burnet County icon. He and his wife established Camp Longhorn on Inks Lakes in 1939 before adding Camp Longhorn Indian Springs, also in Burnet County, in 1975. But it wasn’t just his work at the camp that made Robertson such a legend, it was his entire life.

Born Julian Robertson in 1909, he earned an international reputation as a swimmer with trips to the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and by winning championships as a member of the University of Michigan swim team.

Throughout his life, Robertson didn’t let anything stop him from pursuing his dream.

Lucksinger said if there’s anything people can learn from the book and Robertson’s life, it’s how sometimes it just takes putting one’s head down and forging ahead to get things done.

“I think the thing people can take away from this book is the amazing amount of things a person can do and create by the sheer force of will,” Lucksinger said.

He pointed out his grandfather wasn’t hired as the University of Texas swim coach, even though he was recruiting swimmers for the school. In fact, at the time, UT didn’t even have a swim team. But that didn’t stop Robertson, Lucksinger said.

“UT didn’t know anything about Tex until they started getting commitment letters from these swimmers he had recruited,” Lucksinger said with a laugh. “One day, he shows up at UT to collect his mail and says, ‘I’m your swim coach.’ They were like, ‘We don’t have a swim coach. We don’t have a swim team.’ He didn’t ask, he just started.”

Robertson’s life had many facets. During World War II, Robertson helped train Navy underwater demolition technicians. These were the men who went out before a major beach landing and cleared paths through mines and other obstacles so soldiers on the landing craft had a better chance of making it to shore.

These early UDTs units eventually spawned the Navy SEALs.

As Lucksinger began linking up with people who knew his grandfather and uncovering more stories about the man’s life, the writer soon realized a book about Robertson wouldn’t neatly fit into a straight timeline.

So he broke it up into sections based on different focuses of Robertson’s life.

“I describe (the biography) as five books in one,” Lucksinger said. “It’s mostly split up by topics, so there are five different story arcs. Some of them overlap, but I think it’s easier for the reader this way.”

After Lucksinger completed the book, one of the highlights of the entire process was handing a copy to his grandmother and Robertson’s wife, Pat.

“Giving the book to her was really exciting,” Lucksinger said.

When it comes to his own memories of his grandfather, Lucksinger recalls Robertson’s humor and quick wit, something the former UT coach demonstrated throughout his life.

“Up to his death (in 2007), when he was 98, Tex still had that sharp wit,” Lucksinger said. “And the other thing is his whole life was just about going out and doing it, never asking for permission.”

Go to www.rosslucksinger.com or Amazon.com to purchase a copy of Robertson’s biography.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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