Rick Kobe begins his 25th season at the helm of the East Carolina swimming program. Kobe has had the same approach to winning for the past 24 years: recruit the top athletes who can come in and be competitive from the first day.
During his time at ECU, Kobe has helped the Pirates set 225 varsity records and 127 freshman records. He has coached 27 NCAA qualifiers, four NCAA All-Americans, one Olympic participant, 138 individual event conference champions, 96 All-conference performers.
Kobe teams have also won eight conference team championships. Kobe was named the 2002-03 Conference USA Coach of the Year marking the eighth time that he has received a Coach of the Year honor.
Kobe served as an assistant coach for the Pirates from 1980-82 before taking over the men's and women's swimming programs prior to the 1982-83 season. After one season, Kobe's workout regiment and recruiting abilities began to pay off as the men's team finished with an 8-4 dual meet record , and the women's program came away in even better fashion, sporting a 9-4 record.
From there, Kobe has taken the swimming program to a level unsurpassed in Pirate history. Through his team's success, Kobe has become the winningest coach in Pirate athletics' history. His .724 winning percentage is the best of any Pirate coach with at least five years at ECU since the school became a Division I institution in the late 1960s. Overall, Kobe's teams have combined for a 379-142 record in 24 years.
Just the fourth coach in Pirate swimming's rich history, Kobe began his coaching career at West Virginia where he was an assistant from 1976-78. Beginning in 1978, he coached the Raleigh Swim Association and then, in 1980, came to ECU as an assistant coach under Ray Scharf. Kobe then took over the top spot in the Pirates' program on March 15, 1982.
Seven of Kobe's former assistant coaches have moved on to become head coaches at other schools.
A native of Windsor, Vt., Kobe swam competitively for Fairmont State (W. Va.) College, serving as team captain during his senior season. He earned a bachelor's degree in health and physical education in 1976 and obtained his master's degree in the same field from West Virginia in 1978.
Kobe was one of the youngest coaches ever to receive the prestigious Master's Coach Award presented by the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America.
Kobe has two daughters: Suzanne, a senior at New York University, and Catherine, a senior at J.H. Rose High School.
Kobe is married to the former Courtney Holton Welch and has three step daughters: Lindsay, Tyler, and Holton.