From a young age, it was obvious that Cooper Robinson had a talent for swimming.
His mother, Rhonda Robinson, took 3-year-old Cooper to Emler Swim School in Arlington. The instructor moved Cooper into a more advanced class and told his parents that he was talented.
However, he did not start swimming competitively until the summer before eighth grade. Cooper said he was a couch potato but his parents wanted him to do something active.
“[Swimming] was fun once I got into it and realized I had a little talent,” Cooper said.
The Robinsons moved to Katy, where Cooper joined a neighborhood summer league swim team. The coach of the team was Seth Huston, who is currently the head swimming coach at Rice University.
“[Huston] took one look at Cooper and said, ‘You know, you’ve got to get him in swimming.’ And that was his calling,” Rhonda said.
Swimming and diving head coach Richard Sybesma said Robinson is one of the hardest-working students he has ever coached.
“[Cooper] would be my picture of the ideal student-athlete,” Sybesma said.
Cooper broke the school record in the 200 backstroke by two seconds his freshman year.
He also swam the 200 meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials this past summer, finishing 51st in the nation.
Cooper said he does not like to be behind in practice, so he swims hard to keep up with everyone else.
Sybesma said Cooper takes every practice and meet seriously. He even warms up hard, Sybesma said.
“[The TCU coaches] saw [Robinson] as a great person as a whole, a swimmer we knew had the opportunity to get better,” Sybesma said.
Cooper said his drive to excel came from his time in high school.
At James E. Taylor High School, he was named All-American six times. In swimming, All-American awards are given for each different swimming event.
Swimming in the Olympics would be challenging, but awesome, Cooper said. He said he has been in meets where Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps were also competing, but that he was not star-struck when he saw the Olympians.
“Every big meet, like the Olympic Trials, you grow as a competitor and receive a lot of experience,” Sybesma said.
Cooper said he tries to do his best in workouts, to not let his coaches down in meets or practice and to be the best athlete, as well as the best person, he can be.
Rhonda said her son is caring, honest, responsible and an “amazing young man.”
Cooper chose TCU over major state schools such as Florida State University, Texas A&M University and the University of Tennessee.
“I chose TCU because the team was really good," Cooper said. "I liked the size of the school. I felt like the coaches were going to help me a lot with my swimming and I felt like the teachers were going to help me a lot with academics."