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.
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.