Wyoming will fill its head coaching vacancy from within, with assistant coach Dave Denniston moving to the position of head coach for the Cowboy and Cowgirl swim & dive programs.
The school announced the move on Friday. Denniston has been an assistant with the program for only two years, but spent five years prior coaching the U.S. Paralympic swim team. He takes over for Tom Johnson, who resigned from the post to move into private business. Johnson had been at the helm of the Wyoming programs for 19 seasons.
Denniston was a standout for Auburn in the late ’90s and early 2000s. He captained the Auburn team for two years and qualified for the U.S. World Championships team in 2003. Denniston got some praise on social media from his former Auburn coach David Marsh, who tweeted in support of Denniston’s hire:
Great news! High schoolers saddle up – it's time to look at Wyoming! https://t.co/1yfYLqaQMf
— David Marsh (@dmswimmac) April 22, 2017
The full Wyoming press release is included below:
LARAMIE, Wyo. – The University of Wyoming athletics department has named Dave Denniston the head coach of the swimming and diving program, the department announced today.
Denniston is being promoted 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.
“We are extremely excited to be able to hire Dave (Denniston) as the new head coach for our men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs here at the University of Wyoming,” said UW Athletics Director Tom Burman. “We believe that his experience, skillset and passion for young people will enable him to continue to build off the success that our swimming and diving programs have experienced over the past 19 years under the direction of Tom Johnson.”
Denniston was a member of the Auburn University swim program from 1997-2002. A two-time team captain at Auburn, he earned seven individual SEC titles and was a three-time individual NCAA champion. Denniston was a 15-time All-American and also helped lead the Tigers to the 1999 NCAA Team Championship. He still holds the second-fastest 200 breaststroke time in Auburn history and the sixth-fastest time in the 100 breaststroke.
Denniston competed in the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke, where he finished 6th and 9th, respectively. In 2003, he qualified for the World Championship Team in the 200-meter breaststroke before he primarily focused on qualifying for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. He finished fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke and fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke at the Olympic Trails.
“I am honored and excited to take over the swimming and diving program for the University of Wyoming,” Denniston said. “Coach Tom Johnson has spent nearly two decades building this program into one of the most respected in the country and I’m humbled to be taking the reins from a coach, mentor and friend that I respect so much. I want to thank Athletics Director Tom Burman, Senior Associate Athletics Director Randy Welniak and the hiring committee for trusting me with the huge responsibility of running this storied program.”
In 2005, Denniston was injured in a sledding accident and then went on to qualify for the 2008 Paralympic games. Denniston started a motivational speaking company called Mind Over Body. It was created to help people reach their goals despite barriers in life. He has also spent time as an Assistant Editor for Swimming World Magazine. He was awarded the Christopher and Dana Reeve Inspiration award in 2009 and James R. Flowers Coach of the Year award in 2012 while coach of the U.S. Paralympic team. Denniston is a 2002 graduate of Auburn where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in English.