After a promising 2022-23 season during which the girls team earned a district championship, Horizon High School won’t have a swim team this year.
“We could not find a coach,” Horizon High Athletic Director Adam Miller said.
Miller, who came in as a replacement of founding Athletic Director Scott Drabczyk, said the school posted the position in several job-searching sites and spoke with a number of faculty members in an attempt to fill the position left open when coach Rachel Barkowitz left.
However, the search yielded no suitable candidates.
“It takes a special person to dedicate the time and invest the time for our kids and student-athletes,” Miller said. “And, I think with coaching in general, sometimes it’s just hard to find coaches at any given time in any sport.”
In past years, this situation meant the school’s swimmers would not be able to compete. However, thanks to new state legislation, members of the Hawks teams will be able to swim as part of neighboring schools’ swim teams.
House Bill 225, which went into effect July 1, authorizes “traditional public school students to participate in interscholastic and intrascholastic activities at certain schools; revising the requirements for students to participate in such activities.”
“It doesn’t benefit us, so much as it benefits the (athletes who weren’t) going to have the opportunity to swim at the school they were at because there wasn’t going to be a team there,” West Orange High Athletic Director Todd LaNeave said. “If this were last year or the year before, those athletes from Horizon that do swimming — they’d be stuck. … (So), this is much better than the alternative, where it used to be they didn’t have (the chance to swim at other schools.”
The Windermere High School swim team welcomed 10 Horizon students to try out; only three made the team. In total, there are 29 boys and 20 girls who are part of the Wolverines swimming team this season.
At West Orange, three Horizon Hawks attended tryouts, and two made the team. Overall, the Warriors have 29 girls and 22 boys this season.
Despite Horizon not having luck on finding a coach for this season, Miller said the school already is searching for a new swim coach to lead the Hawks in the 2024-25 season.
“When we have a swim team next year, any student who swam elsewhere this year will have to come back,” he said. “Unless they made a full move. … All our programs are a priority.”
Staff writer Andrea Mujica covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. When she’s not on the sidelines, you can find Andrea coaching rowers at the Orlando Area Rowing Society in Windermere.