William Berge Phillips (AUS)

Honor Contributor (1997)

The information on this page was written the year of their induction.

FOR THE RECORD:  President of FINA (1964-1968); Vice President of FINA (1952-1964); Bureau member of FINA (1948-1976); Australian Olympic Committee member (1946-1977); Chief judge, referee at 7 Olympic Games (1948-1976); Olympic Jury of Appeal and Management Committee at 11 Olympic Games (1948-1988); Founding President of General Assembly of International Sports Federation (1969); Commonwealth Games official and Honorary Secretary/Treasurer (1952-1962), 1966); Executive member Australian Commonwealth Games Association (1946-1976); Jury of Appeal and Management at six World Championships (1973-1991); Australian Swimming Union Executive member (1940-1973); Extensive participation in Affairs of Asian Games, South East Asian Games, South Pacific Games and New South Wales Swimming and Water Polo.

For over 40 years, William “Bill” Berge Phillips of Australia has served the aquatic disciplines equally and distinguishably.  As a leader and administrator, he worked tirelessly and with a focus to get the job done.  During his tenure from the mid 1940s to his official “retirement” in 1990, swimming in Australia and the world took on numerous changes, many of which were influenced by Phillips.

From 1964 to 1968, Phillips was elected by his peers to the Office of the President of FINA, between the terms of Max Ritter, USA (1960-1964) and Javier Ostos, MEX (1968-1972).  During his presidency, additional swimming events were added to the Olympic list in 1968: men’s and women’s 200m freestyle, 100m breaststroke and 200m individual medley, the men’s 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly and the women’s 800m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 200m butterfly, a total of 11 events, the most added at any one time in the history of the sport.

At the 1968 FINA Bureau meeting, he appointed the first committee to establish world championships for aquatics.  Through the following years and the catalytic efforts of Javier Ostos and Harold Henning, this vision was realized as the first World Championships of Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1973.

He served as Olympic referee of swimming at Rome (1960), Tokyo (1964), Munich (1972) and Montreal (1976). He served on the Olympic Jury of Appeal and Management Committee for Swimming at 12 Olympic Games for 44 years, from London in 1948 to Barcelona in 1992, serving as committee chairman in 1968.  He served as chief judge for swimming in London (1948), Helsinki, (1952) and Melbourne (1956) as well as Water Polo Commission in Tokyo (1964), Munich (1972) and Montreal (1976).  At the Olympic Games in his native country in 1956, he was the Arena Manager for swimming and a member of the Organizing Committee of the XVI Olympic Games, Melbourne.  He also served as Australian Olympic Committee Council Member, 1946-1977, and manager-coach of the 1948 Olympic swimming team.

Berge was a FINA Bureau member form 1948 to 1976 upon which time he became an Honorary Life Member.  From 1952 to 1964, he served as Vice President.  He was a member of the International Water Polo Committee (1962-64 and 1972-76) and received the FINA gold medal (1968) and Gold Service Award (1977).  He has served as an international referee for all of swimming, diving and water polo.

Bill was the founding president of the General Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAISF). At the first six World championships, he was the Jury of Appeal and Management Committee member and chairman of the Water Polo Technical Committee (1973-75).  He served as the FINA representative to every Commonwealth Games from 1950 to 1966, serving as chief judge, swimming referee or water polo referee. For ten years, beginning in 1952, he was Honorary Secretary Treasurer of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games Swimming Federation.  He was an executive member of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association from 1946 to 1976, a Commonwealth Games conference delegate 15 times form 1948 to 1989 and an official at 10 Commonwealth Games from 1938 to 1990.

Berge has been an executive member of the Australian Swimming Union from 1940 to 1973, serving as Secretary Treasurer form 1941 to 1967 and President from 1967 to 1970.  He has held just about every position in the New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association and Water Polo Association from 1936 to 1990.  He has served as Asian Games swimming, diving and water polo referee as well as at Southeast Asian Games and South Pacific Games.  He has also served on swim and water polo clubs within Sydney. As a water polo player in his younger days, he developed a personal feel for the aquatic disciplines.  His son and grandson followed in his shoes as Australian water polo players and swimmers.

In 1976, Berge Phillips was decorated by Queen Elizabeth of England with the “Order of British Empire”, O.B.E. for his many years of service to the Commonwealth and the World of swimming. He has received the Life Member medal from every N.S.W., Australian and FINA organization of which he has been a part.  He is a very active member of the International Association of Lions Clubs, speaking about and promoting swimming.  As a teacher, he organized and served on numerous learn-to-swim committees within N.S.W., co-authoring the Learn-to-Swim Instruction Book (1954).

Berge Phillips has a great sense of humor, and is always very jolly and happy.  He coupled this with being a good organizer and a pusher to get things done.  A lawyer by profession, he understood the means by which to accomplish goals.  He was the first Australian to serve on and become involved with the international process of administering the four aquatic disciplines.