In this week’s edition of “5 Questions With…” we interview University of Wyoming Swimming & Diving Coach Dave Denniston. Coach Denniston was recently named the WAC Coach of the year after his men’s swimming and diving team claimed the WAC Conference Championship, the schools first in 59-years. Denniston was hired as the head coach in 2017 following two seasons as an assistant coach at UW. Denniston came to Wyoming after coaching the U.S. Paralympics swim team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs from 2010 to 2015.
How did you get into coaching?
I swam at every level of the sport and was finishing my Paralympic career when my coach, Jimi Flowers passed away from a climbing accident on Capital Peak by Aspen in 2010. My teammates at the Olympic Training Center needed a coach to replace him. While Jimi was irreplaceable, I did the best job I could to make his vision a realty for those 12 swimmers.
Before coaching, what was your involvement with swimming?
I started in Wright ,Wyoming for the Dolphins swim team and had several coaches like Marci Young, Otto Nolte, Craig McCrary and Mike Miller help me get faster and faster. I moved to Colorado as a Sophomore in High School and ended up being recruited by Jimi to go to Auburn University in 1997. I was an NCAA champion there and member of the USA National Team until 2004. I broke my back sledding in 2005 and started swimming Paralympic Competition in 2007. I went on to swim in Beijing in 2008 under Jimi’s coaching.
Before becoming a coach at the University of Wyoming you coached the U.S. Paralympics swim team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. What made you take the job at UW?
I knew I needed a change and wanted to grow professionally. The Cowboys won the 2015 MW Championship in basketball and the wrestling team honored the scholarship of Doyle Trout who lost his leg. My nephews idolize Doyle. I also had known TJ (Tom Johnson) for a long time and knew he would be a fantastic mentor for me. Basically I saw a lot of positive things happening in Laramie and wanted to be part of it.
What is your favorite part about coaching at the University of Wyoming?
I love the people and the community. I think the support all of the sports get from the state is really wonderful. For me, this is home and working with the athletes I get to work with makes everyday a good one.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Stay grounded in your values, but remain flexible in your actions. Life really is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.