The 2017 girl’s high school swimming and diving season could turn out to be a banner one for Laramie High School.

Laramie returns 19 state qualifiers, which includes seven All-State swimmers and divers, off last year’s team that finished as the 4A runner-up.

Tom Hudson is in his 27th season as head coach. He not only has a veteran squad, but also a big one, with 48 girls out for the team.

Hudson says with all those qualifiers returning we’ve got to place more to be in contention.

“It’s going to take the whole team, and I think we’re going to push 24 or 25 qualifiers across before it’s all said and done. We’re emphasizing getting those kids qualified early, so that they can train hard all the way through the season… We need them to score points at state. We do have a chance to win a state title, but it’s going to take the whole team.”

He believes Sheridan is in the role of favorite for now, but they’ll make a push.

The landscape of girl’s high school swimming and diving has changed with Gillette splitting into two high schools. Hudson feels both will still play a factor, as well as Green River and Cheyenne Central.

The 2017 squad will be led by sophomore returning state champion Olivia McPherson, who captured the 50 freestyle at state last year.

Hudson says, “She (Olivia) is a dominating sprinter. Now she’s going to have competition from Sani Carsrud from Thunder Basin, as well as Sammy Geyer, All-American, from Central.”

He went on to mention senior captain and all-state swimmer Maggie Clerkin, who is a power in the distance freestyle events, as a nice 1-2 punch in the pool. Hudson also says the Lady Plainsmen are strong on the diving board again, as they bring back three all-state honorees in junior Teryn White (2nd), senior Kylie Campbell (3rd) and senior Michaela Pooler (5th).

“We rely on depth. That’s a Laramie trademark, but that depth’s really going to have to push into the top 12, and this is a state that didn’t lose a lot (from) last year. So, our work’s cut out for us.”

KOWB’s David Settle had a chance to get the student-athlete’s perspective, as Clerkin and White joined him to preview the season.

Hudson believes it’s about getting those early qualifiers he touched on. He also mentioned their season has been extended by a week.

“That’ll change things a little bit. We’ll be able to spend a little more time early in this season focusing on some condition, some technique things… I’m looking forward to that extra week of training, too.”

The state meet will now be held on November 3 and 4 in Gillette.

Their schedule is road-heavy in 2017. The Lady Plainsmen open with the Laramie Relays and Laramie Pentathlon Friday and Saturday at the LHS Natatorium, but then they’re at home just once in September on Friday the 8th. The Lady Plainsmen will host the Cheyenne schools in early October, plus Laramie will be the site of the 4A East Conference Championships Oct. 19 and 20.

Hudson says having a pool back this summer was highly beneficial.

“We had a good training session this summer. A lot of girls stayed in shape, so I’m looking forward to a fast start.”