As a member of the prestigious Ivy League, Princeton University is known primarily for its world-class undergraduate education, but it also boasts one of the oldest swimming programs in college athletics, dating back to 1904. Princeton alumnus Sandy Thatcher wrote an entire book on the school’s storied swimming history, which you can read here, but suffice it to say that the Tigers have been a big part of the college swimming scene from the very beginning.
Under long-time coach Rob Orr, who retired this spring, the Tiger men collected 330 dual meet victories, 23 Ivy League Championship titles, and dozens of All-American finishes at the NCAA Championships. Additionally, the Princeton men have sent several men to the Olympics, including current assistant coach Doug Lennox.
Orr would be a tough act to follow, but Princeton quickly tabbed Matt Crispino, previously the head coach at the College of William & Mary, as the man to replace Orr. Crispino is a W&M alumnus, and under his leadership the Tribe became the swimming powerhouse of the Colonial Athletic Conference, including five-straight men’s titles. The fact that W&M accomplished this without scholarships and in an 8-lane pool shared pool in the basement of the campus recreation center led to Crispino being regarded as one of the best mid-major coaches in the country.
We spoke with Crispino to get his perspective on what exactly about Princeton lured him away from his alma mater.
Princeton’s always been on a very short list of one or two places that I would have considered leaving William & Mary for. That list isn’t very long, but it checks every box. Academically it’s the best in the world for undergraduate education. Their athletic department is probably the best non-Power 5 athletic department in the country. They’re the most successful athletic program in the Ivy League. The swimming program has a storied history of success. And the facility is one of the top pools on the East Coast. So it seems to me like there is no box was that was left unchecked and all the pieces are in place for Princeton to be one of the elite swimming programs in the country.
The Princeton men were already on the rise, having had their highest finish in three years at the 2019 NCAAs, and with a new, highly-regarded coach, top-of-the-line facilities, a sterling academic reputation, and over 100 years of swimming history to build off of, the Tigers are poised to be among the elite programs in college swimming.
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