LHS Swimming & Diving Head Coach Tom Hudson finds talent in his PE class, turns students into competitive swimmers

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:17 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:18 PM CDT
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LARAMIE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The name Tom Hudson has become synonymous with excellence over the last three decades.

“I feel very fortunate that we’ve got a coach like Coach Hudson,” said Laramie Athletic Director Ron Wagner. “Not just because he puts a lot of banners on the wall obviously but at the same time he’s really great for kids.”

The Laramie High School Swimming & Diving Coach has won 19 team state championships (12 boys, 7 girls), won over 800 duals meets and has been named the Wyoming Swimming State Coach of the Year 25 times since taking over the boys and girls programs in 1991 and 1992.

The Sheridan native’s resume speaks for itself but one of the most impressive things he does is accomplished while performing his other job as a swimming teacher in the LHS Physical Education Department.

“If I see a student in the pool in my PE class and they have just I can sense just a natural ability, maybe they’re really comfortable in the water, their body position is good, they flutter kick really well and I can just see aptitude and if I see that, I’m definitely going to talk to them ask them what sports they’re in, what sports they like, and when I hear that they’re not in a sport I get kind of excited and then I’m like, ‘well you know what you oughta try swimming I think you could be pretty good at it,’” said Hudson.

Hudson’s education career began as a student-teacher under legendary Laramie Head Coach Layne Kopischka. Then in 1992, Hudson became a full time teacher and started recruiting out of his class, like Coach Kopischka used to do.

Many of the kids that Husdon successfully recruited have gone on to do amazing things in the pool, including be team state champions.

However, one of Hudson’s most impressive moments was coaching up Slade Schaeffer who did not swim until high school and became an individual state champion (100 Back), school record holder (200 Free), and a Division I swimmer at the University of Wyoming.

“I think Tom sort of has a unique talent for identifying something about any athlete at sort of any given level and being able to bring them to the next level,” said Slade Shaeffer who graduated from LHS in 2014.

Though Slade is a shining example of how Hudson developed someone into the pool, others like current senior swimmer Kayley Yother have stories about how he helped them in life.

“He’s also been there for me,” said Yother. “I’ve had some family stuff here and there and he’s always been like really willing to understand and like help push me through that.”

Another person who Hudson influenced is Elizabeth “Biz” Winarski. She was a 1997 graduate of Laramie High School and she was a member of Hudson’s first state championship win in 1993.

“He cares about every kid that steps onto that pool deck and he cares not just about their success as a swimmer, but their success in their personal life, academic life, and their families as well,” said Warnarski.

Hudson said he is in the twilight of his career and that after each boys swimming season, he and his wife talk about whether or not he should keep coach and teaching or retire. He said the plan is to keep going for now, but of course one day he will retire and he hopes he left his swimmers with the following feeling:

“I like to feel like they’ve been a part of something bigger than themselves and they’re proud of it and that’s to me what my biggest accomplishments can be is they feel like they’ve been a part of something special if they’ve been Laramie Plainsmen or Lady Plainsmen,” said Hudson.

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