Article and images from FIUSports.com
MIAMI (Nov. 29, 2016) – Head Coach Randy Horner announced on Tuesday the signing of eight student-athletes to the back-to-back Conference USA Champion FIU Swimming and Diving team for the 2017-18 season. The list includes swimmers Kelsie Campbell (Nottingham, England), Victoria Cantu (Cuernavaca, Mexico), Sara Gyertyanffy (Desenzano, Italy), Stina Heimnes (Bergen, Norway), Stephanie Hussey (Beaconsfield, Quebec), Rielly McNamara (Markham, Ontario), Melannie Vargas (Miami, Florida) and diver Rachel Foord (Ferntree, Australia).
“I am very excited about this group of ladies joining our program next fall,” Horner said. “Top to bottom, they will make an immediate impact to our team in many areas. Versatility is a common thread among most of these ladies. Most of them have the ability to swim multiple events as well as sprint freestyle which is ideal in college swimming.”
Campbell, who hails from Nottingham, England, is a British National Finalist who currently swims with the Nova Centurion Swim Club. She has earned gold medals at the Carfita Games in the 100 free, 200 free and 100 fly, as well as two golds at the Caribbean Island Championships for the 100 free and 100 fly while representing Jamaica. She was recently selected by Jamaica to swim at the 2016 FINA World Short Course Championships in Windsor this December. She holds personal bests (LCM) of 26.96 in the 50 free, 58.03 in the 100 free, 2:06.08 in the 200 free, 1:03.48 in the 100 fly, 2:22.00 in the 200 fly and 2:22.25 in the 200 IM.
“Kelsie is another extremely versatile swimmer that we felt strongly about since our initial contact with her,” Horner said. “Her ambition as an athlete combined with her 4.0 GPA makes her a tremendous asset to our program. We are also happy to help yet another athlete pursue their Olympic Dream as Kelsie will be a top candidate for the 2020 Jamaican Olympic Team.”
Cantu comes to FIU from Cuernavaca, Mexico, and swims for Coach Tina Vidal at Palmyra Sport and was a finalist at the Centro-American games in Merida, Mexico. She has been a nominee for Athlete of the Year in her home state of Morelos multiple times and has earned several age group national titles. She holds personal-best times (LCM) of 27.10 in the 50 free, 58.80 in the 100 free, 2:06.70 in the 200 free, 4:24 in the 400 free, 29.10 in the 50 fly, 1:03.55 in the 100 fly and 2:17.80 in the 200 fly.
“Victoria hit it off with the ladies on our team when she came to visit,” Horner said. “You can’t emphasize enough the importance of chemistry when building a great team atmosphere. Victoria will be a great addition to our butterfly events as well as help in freestyle.”
Gyertyanffy comes to FIU from Desenzano, Italy, and is a citizen of both Italy and Hungary, and currently represents Imolanuoto under Coach Tamas Gyertyanffy. She has earned podium finishes at the Italian Junior Nationals multiple times, and has participated in the European Junior Nationals in Dordrecht, Netherlands, where she excelled with a 31.58 in the 50-meter breaststroke last year. Her personal bests converted from long course meters would have landed her high in the finals for three events at the 2016 C-USA Championships, with a potential win for the 100 fly and top four finishes for the 100 breast and 200 IM as well. She has recorded top times (LCM) of 1:11.06 in the 100 breast, 1:00.68 in the 100 fly and 2:17.89 in the 200 IM.
“Sara is one of the top junior swimmers in Italy and we are excited to have her join us next fall,” Horner said. “Sara will impact our team in many areas. Her strength in the IM, breast, butterfly and sprint freestyle will make our team more versatile as well.”
Heimnes, a native of Bergen, Norway, first broke into the international scene by qualifying for the Nordic Championships in 2012. In 2014, Stina and her club teammates took down the Norwegian Junior Short Course Record in the 4×100 Medley Relay. She claimed the silver medal in the Norwegian short course nationals for both seniors and juniors with a personal-best time of 2:30.45 as well as the bronze in the 100 breast with a time of 1:10.01. She also has recorded personal bests (SCM) in 50 breast with a time of 32.92 and the 200 IM with a time of 2:25.06. Her personal bests in long course meters are 2:36.92 (200 breast), 1:12.29 (100 breast), 33.22 (50 breast) and 2:30.44 (200 IM).
“Stina was our first commitment this fall. She was certain about FIU and we were equally happy to have her join our team,” Horner said. “Stina will make our breaststroke group even stronger.”
“I chose FIU because it was a perfect fit for me with both the swim program and the school,” Heimnes said.
Hussey, a native of Quebec, swims for Pointe-Claire Swim Club under coaches Martin Gingras and Phil Garverick. Hussey, a participant in the Olympic Trials in Toronto, won the silver medal in the 200 fly and garnered the bronze in the 400 free at the Canadian Age Group Championships. She also made the B finals in the 400 IM, the 400 free and the 200 fly at the Canadian Senior Nationals. She has recorded personal-best times (LCM) of 1:01.85 in the 100 fly, 2:18.66 in the 200 fly, 5:01.09 in the 400 IM and 4:24.67 in the 400 free.
“I’m as excited as much about the addition of Stephanie’s personality to the team as I am as an athlete’ Horner said. “Stephanie is very outgoing and enthusiastic to go along with her tremendous work ethic in the pool. Stephanie will be a big part of our team continuing to build our program to the next level.”
“I chose FIU because it has an amazing swimming program and a great team to go with it,” Hussey said. “I love the atmosphere they create in and out of training. I had a great experience at FIU and I can’t wait to spend the next four years there with an unbelievable team by my side.”
McNamara comes to FIU from Markham, Ontario. She qualified for the Canadian Age Group Nationals and Senior Nationals in a majority of her events. At the 2016 Canadian Olympic Trials she finished 31st in the 200 fly. She attends Bill Crothers Secondary School in Ontario, Canada, and swims for the Markham Aquatic Club under head Coach Rob Novak. McNamara has recorded personal-best times (LCM) of 2:20.04 in the 200 fly, 1:04.16 in the 100 fly, 2:21.60 in the 200 back and 2:04.02 in the 200 free.
“Rielly has shown her excitement for FIU from her first phone call to her verbal commitment this fall,” Horner said. “She is yet another swimmer that will have versatility in the IM, backstroke, butterfly and freestyle events that will make our team better.”
Vargas, a native of Miami, currently swims of the Flying Fish Swim Club under head coach Ariel Fernandez. She also swims at Doral Academy under head coach Cathy Silveira where she has been chosen as captain of the swim team, while being named MVP four years in a row. She has reached the FHSAA State Finals in the 100 back, placing eighth (58.68) in 2015 and sixth (58.09) in 2016. She has recorded personal-best times (SCY) of 26.32 in the 50 back, 57.09 in the 100 back, 2:02.58 in the 200 back, 2:09.62 in the 200IM and 58.73 in the 100 fly.
“Melannie is a perfect fit for FIU,” Horner said. “She hit it off immediately with our team on the visit and seemed like she was already on the team. Signing one of the best in the Miami area is always a focus for our staff and we are happy to keep Melannie close to home.”
“I fell in love with the campus and the staff was very helpful and nice,” Vargas said. “Also, I loved the welcoming and exciting spirit of the team and coaches. I know I will prosper on my swimming career as well as academically.”
Foord, a native of Ferntree, Australia, qualified for the Australian Open National Championships, finishing 11th in the 3-meter program. The championships served as trials for the Rio Olympics. She won the 2016 Sporting Blue Award for Diving – the highest sports award for Victoria schools. Foord is coached by Jorgen Schelleman and Angus McLardie at the Ringwood Diving Club. Foord placed first in the New Zealand Open and Junior Elite Nationals in the platform and second in the springboard events. She was awarded the Most Improved Diver by Diving Victoria in 2013. Her personal-best scores are 381.90 in the 1-meter (10 dives), 411.55 in the 3-meter (10 dives) and 374.15 in the platform (nine dives).
“We are all very excited to welcome Rachel Foord to our FIU Family,” FIU Diving Coach Rio Ramirez said. “Rachel brings great skills and solid working values that are aligned with our culture in a unique way. Rachel is genuinely excited to become a Panther, has great sense of humor and best of all, we understand each other’s accent and wok ethics.”