NCAA Medalist Robert Howard Retires From Swimming, Won’t Race At Trials


2019 NCAA medalist Robert Howard has retired from competitive swimming and will therefore not be present at the 2021 Olympic Trials. Howard holds a PB in the 50 free of 22.00 and a 48.37 in the 100 freestyle. Those times would have given him an 8th place rank in both events at Trials.

Those times and rankings are improvements upon his placements at 2016 Olympic Trials where he placed 45th in the 50 free (23.03) and 54th in the 100 (50.65).

Without Howard, Tate Jackson (who also isn’t entered at Trials), and Jack Conger (who is entered the meet but not in the 100 free), that means 3 of the would-be top 10 seeds in the 100 free at the Olympic Trials won’t be racing the event.

Howard told SwimSwam on Thursday that he retired after the 2020 ISL season. He went back to Alabama in May, but that things just “didn’t work out,” and he decided to retire. He joins other members of that Alabama pro group Margo Geer and Ian Finnerty in announcing retirements within a few months of the Olympic Trials.

Having graduated with an accounting degree from the University of Alabama, Howard began studying for the CPA exam in January of 2021. He has a job lined up with Deloitte, the largest professional services provider in the world, in Atlanta this fall.

Howard raced for Alabama collegiately from 2015 until 2019 and raced for the Tide at NCAAs in all four of his years at the school. After racing as a member of the relays in 2016 and 2017, Howard has a breakout 2017-2018 season and wound up placing seventh in the 50 free (19.09), 10th in the 100 free (41.81), 23rd in the 200 free (1:34.42) at the 2018 NCAA Championships.

During his senior year, Howard took gold in both the 50 and 100 free at SECs and went on to pick up bronze in the 50 free at NCAAs and 5th in the 100 free.

Howard raced internationally for the US at the 2019 World University Games as a member of the 4×100 freestyle relay. He, along with Zach Apple, Dean Farris, and Tate Jackson delivered a 3:11.03 gold medal performance to beat out Brazil’s 3:15.27 for silver and Italy’s 3:15.91 for bronze.

Howard represented DC Trident during the 2020 ISL season and contributed to a number of their relays. In his only individual race, Howard swam the 50 freestyle at match 4, placing 8th with a 21.94.

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1 year ago

Glad to see a fellow swimmer-turned-Big4-accountant. Life in public accounting can be stressful, but I always felt as if my experience with juggling swimming/work/school did a great job preparing me. Given that Bob has had to juggle these with a much, much more rigorous training regimen than I’ve ever had to deal with, I think he is beyond prepared for the career ahead of him. Good luck!

1 year ago

This dude was your fav swimmer’s fav swimmer.

1 year ago

Congratulations Robert! I’m so happy for you and wish you the best in all of your future endeavors! Sitting next to your Dad has been the best!

1 year ago

Tyler can check another name on his list

Brendan Dassey
Reply to  Roast
1 year ago

So word is slowly coming out that Tyler blocked the pros training with the college team causing a ripple effect.

Didn’t this kid have trouble in the Illinois swim scene as well?

Reply to  Roast
1 year ago

How does one single swimmer cause all of this?

Bam Bam the Legend!
1 year ago

Congrats to Bob for a memorable career beginning with Auburn Aquatics as an age grouper, and then onto UA as a college swimmer. He did great all along the way, and is a great guy. His folks should be proud.

1 year ago

Best of luck to Robert and congrats on his future career.

I believe his retirement came in October(?) after the university prohibited him from facilities because of another athlete. Shame the school wouldn’t support a tremendous athlete in pursuit of his dreams after having such an admirable career at UA.

Reply to  Slammerjammer
1 year ago

What happened?

Brendan Dassey
Reply to  Tony
1 year ago

A certain swimmer on the team (who has been mentioned in the comment section – Tyler S) apparently had a personal vendetta against some of the pros and certain Alum, preventing the whole pro team from training with the college team when the team was being phased back in from COVID.

Reply to  Brendan Dassey
1 year ago

Isn’t it against the rules for pros to train with the college team?

SEC Alum
Reply to  Brendan Dassey
1 year ago


Last edited 1 year ago by SEC Alum
1 year ago

Congratulations. Roll Tide.

1 year ago

When it’s time it’s time. Amazing career at Bama and good luck for what you do next!

Reply to  Pvdh
1 year ago

If Deloitte picked him up, he’s got a good professional career ahead of him.