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When the Tulane administration was looking for a head coach to lead the Green Wave swimming and diving program to new levels of success, it was looking for an energetic leader who can provide an example both in the pool as well as in the classroom. In short, Tulane was looking for Katie Robinson.
Since taking over the team on May 2, 2013, Robinson has spearheaded the Green Wave’s efforts to improve from a sixth-place finish at the 2014 Conference USA Championship to a fourth-place showing a year later in the team’s initial venture into the American Athletic Conference. The finish at the 2015 American Championship was the highest by the program since coming in fourth at the C-USA meet in 2006 and the 494.5 points were the second most scored by the team in a conference championship.
In addition to team improvement, Robinson has raised the level of recruiting in Uptown New Orleans and those recruits have helped rewrite the Green Wave record book. Over the last two years, Tulane swimmers and diver have set nine individual records and another two relay marks.
Each of the eight school records currently held by Robinson’s swimmers came last year as Mia Schachter set Tulane marks in the 50 free (22.90), 100 free (49.49) and 100 breast (1:00.24), Holly Grender scribed her name atop the 200 free (1:49.33), 200 back (1:59.62), 200 IM (2:03.67) and 400 IM (4:21.02) events, and Ellie Sills broke her own record in the 200 fly (1:59.73). Along the way, Schachter earned an invitation to participate in the 2015 NCAA Championship in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 breast to become the first Tulane individual to qualify for nationals since 2004. The Green Wave also set records in the 400 medley relay (3:42.09) and 800 free relay (7:19.22) during the 2014-15 season.
And while the Green Wave have performed admirably in the pool under Robinson’s watch, the overall effort in the classroom has been just as impressive as Tulane earned Scholar All-America status from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America each semester. The team’s 3.54 cumulative grade point average in Fall 2014 ranked tied for fifth nationally as four student-athletes posted perfect 4.0 GPAs while 10 others had a 3.5 or better.
Success athletically and academically, however, are nothing new for Robinson as she has achieved this both as a student-athlete herself and during assistant coaching stints at Rutgers, Virginia and the University of the Pacific.
At Rutgers from 2011-13, Robinson was responsible for the development and training of female swimmers, recruiting top-ranked student-athletes, preparing NCAA recruiting paperwork and official visits, managing team travel, tracking the program's recruiting budget, as well as preparing and delivering the alumni newsletter. During her time in Piscataway, N.J., Robinson helped the Scarlet Knights post consecutive 9-2 dual-meet records while finishing eighth in the Big East Championship in 2012 and fifth in 2013.
During the 2012-13 season, Rutgers swimmers combined to post 41 lifetime-best showings. For her work, Robinson was the recipient of the 2012 Inaugural CSCAA Jean Freeman Scholarship and the 2012-13 Big East SWA Professional Development Grant.
Her first full-time collegiate assistant post came at Virginia from 2008-11 During Robinson's three years on the staff, the Cavalier men's and women's teams won the Atlantic Coast Conference titles and advanced to the NCAA Championships each year. The UVA men posted a combined 30-3 dual meet record, finished ninth in the NCAAs in 2009, 10th in 2010 and eighth in 2011. The women's squad, meanwhile, tallied a cumulative 27-4 dual-meet mark while finishing 12th in the NCAAs in 2009, ninth in 2010 and 13th in 2011.
Robinson's initial foray into collegiate coaching came as a graduate assistant at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where she was responsible for aiding the head coach in both training and recruiting. The Tigers went 3-3 in dual meets during the 2008-09 season and finished fourth in the Big West Conference Championship.
In addition to her responsibilities with the team, she also served as the school's Swim School Director, where she hired instructors, coordinated schedules for swimmers, handled payment and organized advertisements and promotions while raising over $75,000 in gross profit to aid the team’s travel budget.
Prior to her coaching career, Robinson was a star at the University of Texas from 2003-07 when she was an 11-time All-American, claimed the 200 yard fly title at the Big XII three times and served as team captain and recruiting coordinator in 2006-07. She earned a spot at the NCAA Championships every year as a Longhorn and helped Texas to four Top 10 finishes, including sixth-place showings in both 2005 and 2007.
As a senior, Robinson earned first-team All-America honors in the 400 medley relay (5th place) and the 200 medley relay (7th place) at the 2007 NCAA Championship. She added honorable-mention All-America distinction in the 200 fly (9th place), 100 fly (10th place), 800 free relay (10th place), 400 free relay (13th place) and 200 free relay (14th place). She set a Big XII meet record in the 200 fly and 200 medley relay that season with respective times of 1:57.26 and 1:38.36, and completed her career as a six-time All-Big XII selection and a 13-time all-conference honoree.
A standout away from the pool as well, Robinson claimed first-team Academic All-Big XII recognition in each of her final three seasons and was tabbed Texas Women's Swimming Team Academic MVP as a junior and senior. As a senior, she was named first-team ESPN The Magazine All-District VI and second-team Academic All-American, and was the Big XII nominee for NCAA Female Athlete of the Year.
Robinson claimed the Jody Conradt Endowed Scholarship in 2005, the Houston Texas Exes Endowed Scholarship in 2006 and the V.F. "Doc" Neuhaus Endowed Presidential Scholarship, the Texas women's athletic department's highest endowed honor, in 2007.
Following her collegiate career, Robinson was an aquatic coach for Weiss & Weiss in 2007 where she developed skill and training programs for children aged 5-16 and the master's program. In 2004, she reached the semifinals in the 100 fly at the Olympic Trials, and later competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials where she placed 22nd.
An active member of the community throughout her career as a student-athlete and coach, Robinson currently volunteers with the Girls On The Run in New Orleans on a weekly basis. Prior to her time at Tulane, she volunteered with the Pepsi 10K Run for Special Olympics from 2009-11, the Alzheimer's Memory Walk from 2008-10, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2007 and Marathon Kids from 2003-06.
A native of Dillsboro, Ind., Robinson completed her bachelor's degree in kinesiology in December 2007, graduating with a 3.86 grade point average. She is a member of the CSCAA and the American Swimming Coaches Association.