Louis Agudelo/ Staff Writer
As the Panthers are in preparations to win another swimming and diving Conference USA Championship, Head Coach Randy Horner isn’t even blinking when it comes to him and his teams watch of up and coming challenges to their back-to-back campaign.
FIU won the C-USA Title last season, in an amazing run led by Johanna Gustafsdottir, last year’s FIU Female Athlete of the Year. Gustafsdottir was one of many dominant swimmers and divers here at the University.
Gustafsdottir is one of many on the team who were recruited from another country, something that Horner began doing “more so out of necessity,” considering most student athletes in the U.S. are enamored with the dream of going to school like the University of Florida, or FIU’s big brother, the University of Miami.
“They grow up wanting to have the Gators on their chest,” Horner said.
Horner, because of this, has been forced to go across country lines for recruits, but it’s become a bit of an advantage for him. His recruits have always been head and shoulders above the competition, and this freshman class looks to be no different. He’s not letting it go to his, or his swimmer’s heads, though.
“We have a lot of things to accomplish, and a lot of things to get done, to repeat as champions,” said Horner when prompted about his confidence in his team, all the while, reiterating his pride and high expectations for the athletes in his pool.
He has a long history of winning, earning the Missouri State High School Coach of the Year Honor. This is why he and his team don’t have any specific meets circled on their schedule, as each is just as important as the last. The only real point of extra emphasis, would be C-USA championships, for obvious reasons.
It looks as though FIU has no real competition in it’s own conference, besides of course Rice, “perennial champions” as Horner says. As far as the rest of the conference and division one, “I think we have to look out for all of them, in the future – on paper, it doesn’t look like they’re a threat, but FIU wasn’t a threat two years ago either.”
FIU swimming and diving looks to carry this sort of chip on their shoulder into, and through the season, on the road to repeat. Their first meet is Saturday, Oct. 3, so they have just over two weeks to finish getting ready, but with Horner at the helm, that won’t be much of a concern.