C. Rob Orr Retires After 40 Seasons at the Helm of Princeton Men’s Team

Princeton won its 5th consecutive Ivy League championship in 2013. Archive photo courtesy of The Ivy League.

Princeton athletic director Mollie Marcoux Samaan announced on Monday that C. Rob Orr is retiring as the head coach of Princeton men’s swimming and diving team. Orr wrapped up a 40-year career at the helm of the Tigers’ program at 2019 NCAA Championships in Austin where freshman Raunak Khosla earned All-American honors with a 11th-place finish in the 400 IM.

Orr’s 330 dual meet victories make him the third-most winning men’s coach in Division I. His teams have earned 23 Ivy League Championship titles, including in seven of the last 11 years. Under Orr’s leadership, Princeton produced 38 individual All-Americans and 24 All-American relays. Princeton has had five Top 20 finishes at the NCAA Championships during Orr’s tenure.

Orr’s swimmers won two NCAA championships in the 200 medley relay in 1989 and 1990. Mike Ross, Ty Nelson, Rich Korhammer and Rob Musslewhite won the event in 1989, while Ross, Nelson, Leroy Kim, and Erik Osborn set an American record while claiming the title the following year. Orr also coached several Olympians, including 1988 Olympic 200 backstroke finalist Dan Veatch, 1992 Olympic double gold medalist Nelson Diebel, 2000 and 2004 Olympian Juan Pablo Valdivieso, and 2008 Olympians Bryan Tay and current assistant coach Doug Lennox.

Princeton finished either 1st or 2nd in its conference (which until 2009 included several other schools in addition to the eight Ivies) every season from 1982-83 until 2016-17, when the Tigers did not compete in the second half of the season. After Princeton received a complaint about material on the University-sponsored men’s swimming and diving team listserv that was described in a press release as “vulgar,” “offensive,” “racist,” and “misogynistic,” Orr and Marcoux Samaan made the decision to suspend the men’s team for the second half of 2016-17 season. Competition resumed in 2017-18 and the Tigers finished second to Harvard in each of the last two seasons.

Orr received the Richard E. Steadman Award in 2015, and honor conferred annually to a swimming or diving coach in high school, club, or university ranks who, in the opinion of the CSCAA, has done the most to spread happiness in Coach Steadman’s beloved sport of swimming and diving.

Orr graduated from USC in 1972. In addition to coaching at Princeton, he served as head coach at the 1991 Olympic Festival and was the head women’s coach for the 1993 U.S. national junior team. He has also served on the NCAA Swimming and Diving Committee.

Princeton’s press release announced that a national search for Orr’s replacement would begin immediately.


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Amazing man to whom I give credit for all the luck I had as a swimmer there. If you’ve never met Rob Orr you’ve missed out. I’m really lucky to have had the opportunity to swim for Rob!


The great C. Robison, known to all as Rob, was a great Trojan where the pride and tradition of a legendary program made him the outstanding candidate to lead Princeton for these many decades. Quite the 200 flyer in his day for SC, his sincerity as a coach and recruiter, the warmth of his coaching style and the success of thousands of today’s professionals who were student-athletes over the years at Princeton will surely be his legacy. I know I write for many who found Rob to be one of the Ivy League’s greatest treasures and one of Peter Daland’s many protege’s in the ranks of coaching. Good health and great adventures to you.
Three cheers for Old Nassau………


Locomotive cheer for Rob!

Already very curious about his replacement… I wonder if Harvard’s top 10 finish this weekend legitimizes the Ivy League more than in the past? I’d obviously expect, say, the UNC job to be a step above but I think this program could look really attractive to someone looking for a chance to really build up a program


Why would UNC be a better job than one of the Ivy League schools? UNC finished below Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Penn at NCAAs, and has to contend with NC State in conference and in state for recruiting.


I totally agree! I’m just wondering if the same coaches discussed in that 150+ comment UNC article will end up being the same pool applying for this job, ya know? I hope so!

Ol' Longhorn

Uh, UNC has athletic scholarships. Ivy’s don’t. Not all good swimmers have rich parents.


True, but Princeton has pretty great (and generous) need-based financial aid grants. It some ways, this is even better than a scholarship that isn’t guaranteed for all 4 years.


What about Jamie Holder? Head Coach at Dartmouth, before that head at Georgetown. Princeton alum and assistant coach for five years.


I think Jamie Holder would be a great candidate for that program. He has serious talent as a coach and recruiter. Look what he has done with the Dartmouth Women’s team after 2 recruiting classes.


Dartmouth men finishing at the bottom of the conference would make him a great candidate?

NE swim

Jamie Holder is a serious coach on the rise as is the Dartmouth Swim Team (especially the women’s team). Unlikely he would leave now especially for a school also in the Ivy League


I don’t want to discount the Dartmouth men’s team; they do seriously impressive stuff outside of the pool. I’ve never seen a deal pipeline as robust as theirs for a shop that has only been operating for a few years. They are certainly making a name for themselves and have even branched out into the quant field with recent international additions to the team. I would expect them to top the league tables this year or next depending how long this bull run continues.

Wolves Eating Sheep

What about his results at Dartmouth though?


Why look far and wide, what about their current assistant coach Lennox?


My bet is on current assistant Coach Lennox to get the job, especially as he is an alum of the program.


The program needs to cast a wide net in looking for a replacement. They need someone with experience who can bring in new ideas to the program. Let us not forget it was only two years ago the program was suspended. I think it would be good for the university to consider starting fresh.


Replacing a legend is extremely difficult. I have heard great things about both Doug and Jamie, but, even though they swam for and were trained by Rob, that doesn’t mean they will be Rob. There will never be another Rob. Let’s remember that Bill Farley was a very successful coach, and the search committee chose the anti-Farley from the Dads Club in Houston to replace him. Pretty sure that Rob would tell you that his first few years were somewhat rocky. Guarantee you that his successor’s will be. Here’s hoping this search committee is as successful as the last one. Tiger, tiger, tiger.

Tiger Mom

As someone close to the program, Coach Doug has been working his butt off for this team since he arrived. He’s been a great support, skilled recruiter, and as an alum knows what its like for the guys on the team. He’s helped inject some energy into the program and I have great confidence he could do well carrying the torch on from here.


Nationwide search means that Princeton wants former ace recruiter assistant Mitch Dalton to return.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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