Andy Burke - Hall Of Fame Contributor

Andy Burke (USA)
BirthplaceSan Francisco, California, United States Current City
CountryUnited States FlagAmerican
Birthplace:San Francisco, California, United States
Current City:
Country:United States
Birth Date:
  • Played water polo in high school, but soon became an official for his sport.
  • In 1960, Burke was elected to be Chairman of the National AAU water polo committee.
  • Helped in the United States' national team selection process for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
  • At the age of 88, Burke continues to volunteer his services as a referee for high school level matches. Not to mention, he oversees the Masters water polo program of the Olympic club. 
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For over 50 years, the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) has recognized a category of honorees known as “contributors.” They are the unsung heroes who have used their talents and work behind the scenes to positively impact the aquatic sports and help create platforms for others to achieve fame and glory.

Andy Burke grew up in San Francisco and in 1945, while still in high school, he started playing water polo for the Olympic Club of San Francisco. After nearly a decade as the team’s center back, he traded in his suit and cap for a referee flag and whistle and took on administrative duties that quickly earned him the respect and admiration of his peers. In 1960, he was elected Chairman of the National AAU water polo committee and from 1961 through 1964 he also served as Chairman of water polo for the U.S. Olympic Committee. Burke oversaw the Olympic team selection process and served as manager for the USA Water Polo team at the 1964 Tokyo Games. From 1966 through 1976, he served as Chairman of the AAU Water Polo Rules Committee and internationally, he served on the Technical Water Polo Committee UANA, the Swimming Union of the Americas, from 1963 through 1975, and on the UANA Executive Board from 1975 to 1995.

While Andy served in many leadership positions during his career, he always put the athletes and swimming sports first, even if it meant stepping aside and helping others who he thought could be more effective as leaders. Among those Andy assisted to rise above him was a tall, debonair young midwestern lawyer and water polo player by the name of Bob Helmick. From their first meeting in the early 1960s, Andy recognized his talents as a future leader. “The smartest man I ever met,” Burke says. And for the next two decades, Andy served as Helmick’s advisor, promoter and unofficial “campaign manager” as he rose to positions of power from within the AAU and Olympic water polo committees to the presidency of FINA in 1984 and finally as President of the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1988. Among the many ways Bob Helmick repaid Andy for his support was by designating him Chef d’Mission to lead the U.S. Delegation at the 1991 FINA World Championships in Perth, Australia.

Andy played a similar role in the early career of Dr. Julio Maglione. He had been involved with the UANA organization since 1963 and on the Executive Board for four years, when Maglione was elected President of UANA in 1979. The organization didn’t do much between Pan American Games, but the new president wanted that to change. Andy helped the new president turn his ideas into actions and their efforts caught the attention of FINA, especially Bob Helmick. In 1984, Dr. Maglione moved from UANA president to the FINA Bureau and serves as President of FINA today.

Andy continues today to serve as an example of the spirit of volunteerism. At the age of 88 years young, when most folks his age are content to sit at home and watch sports on TV, Andy Burke continues to referee high school water polo games, oversee the Masters water polo program of the Olympic Club and provide sage advice to the many leaders of today who seek him out.