LARAMIE -- The University of Wyoming swimming & diving team competed last season. However, like most sports, it didn’t feel normal.

Due to COVID-19, workout regiments were altered and interrupted. The schedule was adjusted and shortened.

Taking everything into account, and it simply wasn’t the same. The disappointment of a disjointed 2020-21 season has resulted in a heightened focus ahead of the 2021-22 season.

“The team is hungry to have a normal season, and that hunger and desire to practice and to show what they’re capable of has transcended into their workouts,” head coach Dave Denniston said. “These first few weeks of practice have been some of the best we’ve had since I’ve been here, across all the groups. What they’re doing in the weight room – the amount of weight they are moving right now – and the way they’re challenging and supporting each other in practice, has been at a higher level.”

The hunger and desire Denniston referred to is a byproduct of some unfinished business. With last year being so abnormal, many swimmers, especially the upperclassmen, didn’t have the season they envisioned.

That’s being used as fuel, as well.

“We learned a lot last year, but we definitely want a do-over,” Denniston said. “There’s a lot we can do to improve and be better than what happened last year. I think that’s been a big source of that motivation – let’s move past that and show what we got one more time.”

The Cowgirls finished fourth at the 2021 Mountain West Conference championships. All but one of the all-conference selections return, and junior diver Melissa Mirafuentes headlines that list.

In addition to being named all-conference in 1-meter, 3-meter and platform, Mirafuentes was an All-American selection each of her first two seasons in platform. Both of those accolades go alongside a pair of MWC titles in the same event.

Fifth-year senior Katelyn Blattner holds a number of all-conference accolades from a year ago. She won, for the second consecutive season, a MWC title in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles. In addition, she placed runner-up in the 200-yard backstroke, while also helping the 800-freestyle relay team touch third.

Seniors Sani Carsrud, Lainee Jones and Erin Eccleston and sophomores Kali Franckowiak and Sage Morton were all recognized as all-conference performers, as well.

“(The women’s team) is probably the most balanced it has been,” Denniston said. “I think there’s a lot of talent and depth, and the depth part is what unique to this team.”

The 2021-22 season begins Friday with the annual Brown and Gold meet at 4 p.m. at Laramie High School. That’s followed by the DU Relays on Oct. 2.

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