Princeton’s C. Rob Orr Announces Retirement After 40-Year Career

Photo Courtesy: Princeton Athletics

C. Rob Orr, a man whose name is synonymous with both championship-level coaching and Tiger Swimming, has announced his retirement as the head coach of the Princeton Men’s Swimming & Diving team, effective at the end of the academic year.

Orr just completed his 40th season as the Princeton head coach by leading the team to an impressive second-place finish in the Ivy League and guiding freshman Raunak Khosla to an All-America finish at the 2019 NCAA Championships. He retires with 330 dual meet victories — the third-most ever for a Division I men’s swimming coach — and 23 Ivy League Championships, including seven of the last 11 titles.

Under Orr’s leadership, Princeton produced 24 All-American relays, as well as 38 individual All-Americans. He also coached several Olympians and NCAA champions, including 1988 Olympic 200 backstroke finalist Dan Veatch ’87, 1992 Olympic double gold medalist Nelson Diebel, 2000 and 2004 Olympian Juan Pablo Valdivieso ’04, and 2008 Olympians Bryan Tay ’12 and current assistant coach Doug Lennox ’09.

The third-winningest active coach in the Princeton athletic department, Orr won the inaugural Ivy League Coach of the Year honor in 2015 after a career filled with EISL Coach of the Year awards.

The prestigious Richard E. Steadman Award, which Orr received in 2015, is 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’s two NCAA championships came between 1989 and 1990, and both were in the 200 medley relay. The latter was the 1990 foursome of Mike Ross ’90, Ty Nelson ’91, Leroy Kim ’93 and Erik Osborn ’90, who set an American record in capturing the 200-yard medley relay. Ross, Nelson, Rich Korhammer ’89 and Rob Musslewhite ’92 won the event in 1989. Before that victory, Princeton hadn’t won an NCAA title Charlie Campbell won the 200 back in 1972.

In addition to his historic competitive success, Orr’s legacy will also be the tremendous impact he has had on his student-athletes outside of the pool and the love and respect they have for him as a person and a coach.

“Rob is a legend in the sport of swimming, but also within our department and the University,” said Ford Family Director of Athletics, Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “He epitomizes what it means to truly love teaching and coaching and to inspire people with positivity and genuine care. His competitive yet fun-loving, spirited and compassionate approach has earned him the respect and adoration of so many. I have been honored to work with him over the past five years and wish him and his wife, Benji all the best during retirement.”

A 1972 graduate of Southern California, Orr kept Princeton at or near the top of the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League/Ivy League. Princeton has enjoyed five Top 20 finishes at the NCAA championships under Orr’s watch.

“While Rob’s achievements are extraordinary, for the student-athletes in the 46 Princeton classes he coached, they are secondary to his unwavering commitment to them and to their health and well-being,” Brian McDonald ’83, a long-serving Friends Group officer and a member of the freshman class when Orr arrived. “Rob is a truly beloved figure who brightened the lives of everyone around him and made the overall Princeton experience an especially rich one. For alumni, parents and friends, his retirement will be greeted with a mix of sadness and enormous gratitude.”

Prior to the Ivy League developing its own Head Coach of the Year honor, Orr had been the EISL Coach of the Year six times, most recently in 1995. In 1990 he received the Master Coach Award from the College Swimming Coaches Association for his contributions to collegiate swimming.

He also 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.

A national search for Orr’s replacement will begin immediately.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with Princeton Swimming and Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact


  1. Mike Davidson

    What a tremendous career and a wonderful person, coach and mentor to allot of you swimmers and future coachrs! #Much2BeProudOf #WellEarnedWellDeserved