Taylor Grabenhorst - Photo/KarenHunt/FSN
Taylor Grabenhorst – Photo/KarenHunt/FSN

Florida International University Announces the Addition of Eleven

Florida International is Definitely going International

By Paul Dodson

MIAMI (Dec. 1, 2015) — Head Coach Randy Horner has announced on Tuesday the addition of 11 new athletes to the reigning C-USA Champion FIU Swimming & Diving Team.  The list of signees includes swimmers Marie Voigt Lauridsen (Varde, Denmark) Megan Bowen (Tavistock, England), Carita Luukkanen (Tampere, Finland), Rachel Whitaker (Princeton, Mass.), Taylor Grabenhorst (Orlando, Fla.), Marissa Martin (Cincinnati, OH), Anna Topolanski (Paris, France), Oceane Peretti (Hyeres, France), Irina Lutzelschwab (Wallbach, Switzerland), Alexa Bryant (North Saanich, B.C.) and diver Brooke Bouchard (Winnipeg, Ontario).

“This class is full of talent,” Horner said. “We have a great record of developing athletes to the next level.  This year, we only graduate three seniors and get Karin Tomeckova back after she returns from her gap year for Olympic preparation for Rio.  We are adding far more than we are losing, our team will be much deeper next season.  Brooke will be another solid addition to the diving team.  Along with redshirt freshmen Brittany Haskell, the diving team will round out to a solid group that are capable of dominating in C-USA.”

Marie Voigt Lauridsen brings her talents to FIU as a sprint freestyler and butterfler. Marie swims for Esbjerg Svømmeklub under the guidance of Coach Örn Arnarson.  Marie just completed the Danish Short Course National Championships where she took bronze posting a time of 59.85 which lead to her being named to the Danish National Team for the Nordic Championships.  Marie was the National Champion in the 50 Freestyle at the 2015 Summer Nationals with a time of 26.25 (LCM) and was the runner-up in the 100 freestyle at the Short Course Nationals in 2014 with a time of 56.91.

“Marie will bring immediate impact to our team.” Horner said. “Sprint freestyle and fly is one of our team’s strengths and she makes us even better in those events right away.”

“At first, the desire to go to college was not all there, but I got in contact with Ignacio, and he explained to me a lot of how FIU worked as a team and the benefits of choosing FIU and the amazing combination of studying and swimming,” Lauridsen said. “That made me so eager to be a part of the team. I cannot wait to feel the full college swimming experience.”

Megan Bowen comes to FIU from Mount Kelly in Tavistok, England, where she is coached by Robin Brew.  Megan is a very versatile swimmer as she can swim freestyle events from the 50 to the 800 as well as the IM events.  Megan’s swimming career has many accomplishments, such as winning a gold medal in the 4×100 free relay in Brazil at the World School Games as well as a gold medal and British Club Record in the 4×200 free relay at British Nationals.

“Megan sees herself as a distance swimmer, but she has the ability to cover many events,” Horner said. “This makes Megan valuable as she can fill many roles as needed on our team.”

Bowen finished ninth at the 2015 British Nationals in the 400 freestyle with a best time of 4:20.68 (LCM).  Megan also has best time of 57.4 and 2:03.2 in the 100 and 200 freestyles (LCM).

“I have always dreamed of going to university in the states to swim, when I came across FIU it ticked all the boxes for me, the set up looked great and the program is ideal for me,” Bowen said. “I see myself progressing with my swimming and enjoying my time out there. The campus and facilities look amazing and can’t wait to get out there to become part of the team.”

Carita Luukkanen comes to FIU from Lambere, Finland.  Carita brings versatility to the FIU lineup as she specializes in the breastroke, backstroke and IM events.

“Carita will fill many roles on our team,” Horner said. ”The backstroke/breastroke combination is not common among swimmers.”

Carita’s best times include 100 back 1:03.54 (LCM) and 200 back 2:12.95 (SCM), 100 breastroke 1:08.93 (SCM) and the 200IM 2:20.36 (LCM).

Rachel Whitaker is a distance freestyle specialist from Princeton, Mass.  Rachel swims for the Greenwood Swim Club for Coach Don Lemieux.  Rachel placed fourth in the mile and seventh in the 800 freestyle at the NASA Junior Nationals in March of 2015.  Rachel’s best times are 4:59.86 in the 500 freestyle, 10:16.29 in the 1000 Freestyle and 17:07.77  in the 1650 Freestyle.

“I liked the thought of being part of such a diverse college and swimming community, one that will not only allow me to succeed in academics, but in the pool as well,” Whitaker said. “Coach Horner emphasizes the importance of being a team first, which is evident during by recruiting trip.  I can’t wait to be a part of the Panther family and enjoying the Florida sunshine!”

Taylor Grabenhorst is a breastroke/IM swimmer from Orlando, Fla.  Taylor just completed her high school seasons posting lifetime best times in both the 100 breastroke at 1:04.61 placing fourth at the State Championships and went 2:07.50 in the 200 IM.   Taylor will add depth to an already strong breastroke group at FIU.

“Taylor is still in her infancy as a swimmer,” Horner said. “It’s exciting to get athletes like Taylor in the program, she will be a great asset to our team.”

Marissa Martin brings talents in the distance freestyle events.  Marissa is the ECC Conference Record Holder in the 200 and 500 Freestyles, ranking seventh in both events for the state of Ohio.  Marissa isn’t only a distance freestyler though as she owns a best time of 4:53.91 LCM in the 400IM.  Marissa’s best times in the freestyle events are 1:51.29 in the 200 freestyle, 4:58.14 in the 500 freestyle and 17:23.13 in the 1650 freestyle.

“Marissa, Oceane and Rachel will bring added strength to our distance group,” Horner said. “They can all step right in and contribute immediately to our team.”

Anna Topolanski is a talented backstroker from Paris, France.  Anna posted all of her best times in 2015 highlighted by a ninth place finish at French Nationals in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:21.58 (LCM).  Anna’s other best times include 30.85 and 1:05.88 in the 50 and 100 backstroke events (LCM).

“Anna will fit well in our program,” Horner said. “She is a very enthusiastic swimmer that has her best swimming ahead of her. I’m happy she decided to join us at FIU.”

Oceane Peretti, a distance freestyler from Aquatic Club Hyerois in Hyeres, France, and coached by DeSusini Annick.  Oceane is a specialist in the 1500 meter freestyle where she was Vice Champion in the 14-18 age category at the French Nationals.

“I’ve chosen FIU because of the good ‘feeling’ I felt with Coach Gayo and the perfect training conditions the university can offer,” Peretti said.

“Oceane is a bright student in addition to a great swimmer,” Horner said. “She is perfect fit for our program.”

Oceane’s best times are 4:23.47 in the 400 free SCM, 8:57.46 in the 800 free SCM and 16:58.05 in the 1500 SCM.

Irina Lutzelschwab comes to FIU from Wallbach, Switzerland, where she swims for Schwimmclub Uster Wallisellen and Coach Gerard Moerland.  Irina swims the sprint freestyle events and will add depth to the sprint squad.

“Irina is a strong athletic girl, she will excel when she adapts to 25 yard course swimming in the U.S,” Horner said.

Irina has personal best times of 26.75, 57.74 and 2:05.93 in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles respectively (SCM).  Irina is a three-time Champion in open water and has a total of six medals in her career at the Junior National Championships.

“I chose FIU because I want to have a good combination of swimming and university and be successful in both parts,” Lutzelschwab said. “The swim team makes a good and strong impression to me and they seem like a big family. The campus looks beautiful and I like to swim outside the whole year.  I think FIU can help me to reach my future goals.”

Alexa Bryant is a freestyler from North Saanich, B.C.  Alexa will bring depth to the sprint and middle distance freestyle events.

“Alexa has a ton of untapped potential,” Horner said. “She is very strong and athletic. She is the type of athlete we love to develop to the next level.”

Alexa comes to FIU as a top student as well, with a 4.0 GPA.  Alexa’s top times are 27.25 SCM in the 50 freestyle, 59.96 LCM in the 100 freestyle and 2:11.56 LCM in the 200 freestyle.

Brooke Bouchard will bring added strength to the top of FIU diving squad.  Brooke comes to FIU from Winnipeg, Canada, with a long list of accomplishments in diving.  Brooke first qualified for Senior Nationals in Canada in her second year as a diver in March of 2014.  Since then, Brooke has been competing at a high level in Canadian Diving and just recently finished 10th in the 2015 Summer Junior Nationals in the one meter event.  Brooke will major in sport and fitness studies at FIU.

“The coaches, teammates and university provided a really welcoming and positive environment,” Bouchard said. “I could definitely see myself excelling at FIU.”




Florida Swim Network