ROCK SPRINGS -- The Rock Springs High School boys swimming and diving team is gearing up for the start of the 2019-20 season.

Now entering his second year as head coach of the program, David Galindo couldn't be more excited to get his group back into the water.

"We had a really great offseason, but now its time for everyone to get back to work," he said.

Despite what was a roller coaster season for the Tigers in 2019, Rock Springs returned home with an 11th-place finish at last year's state meet in Gillette.

"I thought every one of our guys swam well," he said. "Including the competition. We just didn't have the times to finish where we wanted."

Before making the trip to Gillette, RSHS had a total of four swimmers qualify for state, two of which were seniors in Anthony Erramouspe and Everett Whitman.

"Anthony and Everett were great swimmers and tremendous leaders," Galindo said. "Losing them hurts, but I believe this team has the talent and the mindset to keep the program moving in the right direction."

Fortunately for Galindo, next to Erramouspe and Whitman, the Tigers will return with two more state qualifiers in Conly Searle and Talon Thomas.

As a junior last year, Searle qualified in the 100-yard butterfly. As for Thomas, he was only a sophomore but still qualified in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 50-yard freestyle.

With the hope of having even more state qualifiers in 2020, before last year's season officially wrapped up, Galindo handed out a strict offseason schedule that consisted of working out not just in the water, but in the weight room as well.

"The goal for the workouts were to keep their skill sets sharp throughout the offseason and to keep their bodies in shape for the start of the 2019-20 season," he said.

"What's great about this season is after having a really young team last year, everyone who is returning is coming back with a lot more knowledge of the sport and a lot more experience," Galindo said. "With that experience, we as a team have a lot more depth to work with. I can now plug kids into different events and see who does best where."

Another exciting note for Galindo going forward is the number of students signing up for the sport.

"Our program is growing, and I couldn't be more excited," he said. "This year we looking to have around 30 kids which is up from 20 last year and 12 from the year before."

Of those 30 swimmers, Galindo couldn't be happier about the incoming freshman that will now be making the jump to varsity athletics.

"This year's freshman class is very talented," he said. "Of the seven or eight joining the team, almost all of them have club background and a few of them even have a couple of state titles."

Between the pieces Galindo is already getting back, along with the addition of those talented freshmen, the second-year head coach is setting the bar high in 2019-20.

"With how many teams we have in our conference, I believe we have what it takes to finish third or fourth," he said.

Another goal Galindo believes is reachable is doubling the number of state qualifiers from a season ago.

"We had a lot of near qualifiers last year," he said. "This team is full of hard workers and competitors. I honestly think we can send four to eight to state this year."

Not only is it the talent of the group that makes this team special, but what gives Rock Springs an advantage over the other schools is just how close everyone on the team is.

"From day one, everyone has each other's backs," Galindo said. "Our upperclassmen do a great job pushing the younger guys in the pool. I have even seen some guys help tutor others in the classroom so that everyone on the team stays eligible to compete. It's more than just a close group we have here ... it's a brotherhood."

During the first few weeks of practice, Galindo plans to better his team with two different types of training. The first is specialized training, which is where he will separate his distance swimmers from his sprinters and have them work on their strengths.

The second will be threshold training, where he will bring everyone together to work on the same drills.

"It's no different than what I would do in the classroom with my students," he said. "Every year I tell my guys if they want to see their name on the state qualifier banner hanging above the pool then they need to put in the work ... I call it sweat equity."

Rock Springs officially began practice Monday, Dec. 2. The first home meet and meet of the season for the Tigers will take place in Tiger Pool on Friday, Dec. 13, beginning at 4 p.m.

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