Horner to coach Botswana team in Rio this summer

Alejandro Solana // Staff Writer

Randy Horner, FIU’s swimming and diving coach, will be coaching the Botswana Olympic swimming team in the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It’s an honor to be selected to coach Naomi and David at the Olympics,” Horner told FIUSports.com.

Horner, who was named the “2016 Conference USA Coach of the Year,” guided the Panthers to their second straight C-USA championship this season, defeating second-place Rice by 318 points, the largest margin of victory in C-USA championship history.

Since taking over the program in the 2010-2011 season, the Missouri State grad has found success in recruiting athletes from around the world. Horner has recruited swimmers from over 12 different countries including Iceland, South Africa and Slovakia.

Horner will be coaching sophomore backstroke and freestyle swimmer, Naomi Ruele in Rio, who he recruited back in 2014 while she was still living in her native city of Gaborone, Botswana.

“I spoke to Nacho and Randy and got along with them really well,” said Ruele. “There was a coach/athlete chemistry and I decided to come here.”

Horner will be coaching Ruele this August as she competes in the 50-meter free, as well as David Van Der Colff, a freshman from Nova Southeastern, who will be competing in the 100-meter backstroke. This summer in Rio will be the first time Horner coaches an Olympic swimming team, but Ruele and Van Der Colff are not the first Olympic swimmers to be coached by Horner. Olympians Raichin Anotonov (Bulgaria) and Jackie Wellman (Zambia) were coached by Horner in 2004 during his time as an assistant swimming coach at Missouri State.

He then established a swimming program in New Orleans prior to moving to South Florida and then repeating his success as a coach at FIU with two-consecutive Conference USA championships. Now, Botswana has trusted Horner to lead their swimmers in the Olympic Games.

Despite his international success, Horner plans to stay in South Florida for the next few years. In 2015, the FIU executive director of Sports and Entertainment announced that Horner agreed to a contract extension with FIU which runs through the 2018-19 season.

Christian Garcia, a senior accounting and finance major, is an avid Olympics fan who says he can’t wait to support Ruele and Horner.

“I always watch the Olympics every four years, but there is no doubt I will be tuning in to see Naomi represent FIU,” said Garcia. “I think it is awesome to see athletes from my university represent their home nations. I will be rooting hard for Ruele and Horner.”

Senior Adam Machin, majoring in political science, agrees with Garcia and was shocked when he learned about Ruele representing Botswana.

“I was fascinated to learn about Ruele and her background. I think it is amazing that FIU will be represented by someone from Botswana in an Olympic Game,” Machin said. “It truly does speak to the diversity of our University.”

The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will begin Aug. 5.

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