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The University of Texas team captain in 1955, Patterson came to UT with no previous competitive experience and became the first Longhorn to break 50 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle. He started the Spring Branch ISD swim programs and led Memorial High School to several state championships. He worked as the head coach for Texas A&M, Rice, Arkansas and UT, and coached Dad’s Club to national prominence in the late '50s. He was instrumental in the design and construction of the UT Swim Center.