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Dave Denniston

Inside with Brett Hawke: Dave Denniston

When a sledding accident left Dave Denniston paralyzed from the waist down, the world would have understood if he’d let anger and frustration consume him. Instead, he chose to rise above it. 

As top U.S swimmer, NCAA National Champion and world record holder, Dave carved out a path of success during his career as a swimmer. Today, he sits down with Brett and talks about the journey he has taken both in and out of the pool. Hear about their time spent swimming as teammates at Auburn University and the lessons they learned that would shape their careers. Listen in as Dave shares the key to his positive outlook on life and all the ways he’s redefined it’s meaning with his experience as a Paraolympian, coach and public speaker. 

“I had as perfect of a body as I could physically make but realize now that my attitude had always been paralyzed.” -Dave Denniston [29:34] 


Key Takeaways:

  • How Dave Denniston became a Paralympian.
  • His history as a swimmer.
  • Brett and Dave’s time spent swimming for Auburn University.

Episode Timeline:

  • [00:03] Intro
  • [00:22] Dave Dennison on branching out from his Wyoming roots
  • [01:21] Why he got into swimming
  • [02:15] His first Olympic memories 
  • [03:28] Falling in love with the breaststroke
  • [04:08] Choosing Auburn University in ‘97
  • [07:39] Taking shortcuts and learning from mistakes 
  • [10:47] How the Auburn Team rebounded
  • [13:29]  Brett on gaining confidence from his team
  • [16:12] Dave on competing against Ed Moses and NCAA Championships
  • [22:48] Starting a new journey in 2005 after becoming paralyzed
  • [26:22] How his accident was a blessing in disguise
  • [30:14] Feeling restricted and focusing on finding a way
  • [31:32] Dave's speaking work
  • [32:23] Becoming a Paralympian
  • [33:59] Getting into coaching
  • [34:57] Overcoming restrictions and limitations
  • [35:52] What Dave Denniston is looking forward to in the future
  • [37:18] Thoughts on the Paralympics and Jessica Long
  • [40:16] Outro

Key Quotes:

  • “The other thing about growing up in Wyoming is, this is a blue-collar state and you work hard for whatever you get in life...I might not have the biggest hands and feet or the most talent, but I can work as hard or harder than anybody else.” -Dave Denniston [18:56] 
  • “When you really look at what this sport does for people. Especially a kid from a town of a thousand people in nowhere Wyoming, is it just gives you so many opportunities to grow as a person and to learn about who you are.” -Dave Denniston [21:46] 
  • “Every challenge. Everything that's presented in front of you. Every day there is an opportunity to discover and develop a better version of yourself... Even when I broke my back. As tragic and horrible as that experience looked from the outside. What it really came down to is that's what it was. It was an opportunity to discover and develop a better version of myself.”  -Dave Denniston [22:05] 


Find | Brett Hawke


On Instagram @hawkebr

Find | Dave Denniston


On Instagram: @davodawavo

On Twitter: @davodenniston

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Special Thanks:

Inside with Brett Hawke is presented by Fitter & Faster. Host a swim camp. More than 1,000 swim clinic sessions in 46 States plus Canada & the Bahamas in 2019.

Inside with Brett Hawke is produced and promoted by Swimnerd. Connect your phone to your pace clock with the Swimnerd Pace Clock. Digital, affordable, and Bluetooth programmable from your smartphone.