Strength will be in numbers for the Laramie Lady Plainsmen swimming and diving team for the 2016 season.

Now in his 26th year, Tom Hudson knows with 46 girls out for his program, this will be a typical Laramie team that carries on the tradition of being based on its depth and diving.

“Those are gonna be the things that we live on. We do have some top end swimmers that are going to contribute, but overall it’s going to be a deep team.”

The Lady Plainsmen return 16 state qualifiers and four all-state swimmers led by Maggie Clerkin, who earned the distinction in the 200 and 500 freestyle.

Even with all the praise, Hudson knows Gillette is a clear cut favorite.

“We got second by 100 points over the third place team. Gillette beat us by over 100, and they didn’t lose much of anything.”

Laramie will also be trying to keep the likes of Jackson, who moved up from 3A, Green River, Sheridan and Cheyenne Central.

The Lady Plainsmen opened their season last weekend at the Gillette Relays and Gillette Pentathlon.

LHS won the relays with 318 points, while the Camels came in second at 283. The ladies won two relays, the freshman 200 free and the diving relay.

Last Saturday, Laramie came in fourth in the pentathlon, despite winning the diving portion with the top four finishers. LHS scored 56 points and came in behind Gillette, Central and Sheridan. Freshman Olivia McPherson was the top performer in 12th. They came out of the weekend with seven state qualifiers.

Tuesday, the Lady Plainsmen won their first dual at Central over the Indians by a final score of 107-to-78. Laramie won five events with Clerkin winning a pair in the 200 and 500 free. Carter Burchi won the 200 IM, while Teryn White won diving, and they captured the 400 free relay.

Seven more student-athletes qualified for state, which included five divers. That brings the season total to 14 in just three meets.

Laramie opens their new pool by hosing Gillette Friday at 4 p.m. followed by a double dual against Kelly Walsh and Natrona County Saturday at 9 a.m.