The sophomore season of Mainland Regional High School swimmer Destin Lasco was a lot like his freshman year, only better.

Lasco was involved in setting five more National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association public school meters records as Mainland again went 15-0.

He led the Mustangs, ranked No. 1 all season in The Press Elite 11, to their third consecutive state Public B title.

Lasco finished the season with wins in all four races at the State Individual Swimming Championships, the season-ending event commonly called the Meet of Champions.

Lasco is The Press Boys Swimmer of the Year for the second straight season.

“It’s great being chosen again,” said Lasco, a 16-year-old Linwood resident. “A lot of hard work paid off. We have a lot of great swimmers in the swimming community in New Jersey, and they deserve it, too.”

Lasco set NISCA individual national meters marks this season in the 400 freestyle (3 minutes, 53.30), the 200 individual medley (2:00.14) and the 100 backstroke (53.28). In relays, the sophomore helped the Mustangs break records in the 200 medley relay (1:43.99) and the 200 free relay (1:33.07).

He broke his own record of 2:02.14 from last year in the 200 IM. Mainland had also broken the 200 free relay mark twice during the 2016-17 season.

“It’s hard to believe that Destin could improve on the season he had last year,” Mainland coach Brian Booth said. “But his work ethic and training propelled him to be better this year. The way he impresses you is hard to put into words. I’m never surprised at how well he swims. It’s just a question of how fast he’s going to go.”

He won the 200-yard individual medley in 1:49.21, the 100 backstroke in 48.34 and was part of two winning relays on Feb. 25 as two-time defending champion Mainland beat Summit 115-55 in the state Public B championship meet at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township. The Mustangs have a winning streak of 45 dual meets.

Lasco’s prowess really showed in the big invitational meets against top competition from several schools.

He won the 200-yard IM in a meet-record 1:44.59 at the State Individual Swimming Championships on March 4 at Gloucester County Institute of Technology. That broke his mark of 1:48.07 from last year by more than three seconds, and it beat the second-place finisher by more than six seconds.

He returned to win the 500 free in 4:24.90, and 10 minutes later anchored the 200 free relay, which won in a meet-record 1:23.12. Lasco finished the meet by anchoring the Mustangs’ 400 free relay, which won in 3:02.43.

“It was a great two weeks of states,” Lasco said. “We definitely accomplished a lot to come back and win the state title a third time. We had a great Meet of Champions. I’m very fulfilled by it. There were a lot of others who helped.”

Lasco broke the NISCA 200 IM and 100 backstroke on the same day, a 113-57 win at home Jan. 12 against rival Egg Harbor Township.

“They are definitely two big events for me,” Lasco said. “EHT is such a strong team with a lot of depth. I said, ‘If we’re going to fight for a state title, we better start now.’ It was a great atmosphere. My teammates and my parents (Glenn Sr. and Uyen Lasco) were all watching. It was a great day for Mainland.”

Team of the Year

Mainland Regional defeated every team by at least 40 points in dual meets and won its third straight Cape-Atlantic League American Conference title.

Besides Destin Lasco, Mainland also featured seniors Joe Rogers, Glenn Lasco (Destin’s older brother), Nick DiNofrio, Brett Clauhs, junior Erik Truong and a strong lineup of scorers.

“Each year is a little different, and there are holes to fill,” Booth said. “We lost two (NCAA) Division I swimmers (in Brian McGroarty and Justin Liu, who now swim for LSU and MIT, respectively). This team, led by (this year’s) seniors, stepped up to the challenge of swimming fast and keeping our tradition going.”

Coach of the Year

Barnegat boys team co-coaches Emily Cherry and Rebecca Kane share the Coach of the Year honor after guding the Bengals (10-2-1) to their greatest season.

Barnegat appeared in the program’s first South Jersey final, losing to Oakcrest 103-67 on Feb. 14 at GCIT in Public C.

“We were so excited to hear that,” said Cherry after learning the coaches were both chosen for the year-end honor. “The team worked so hard and gave it 100 percent every time. They were so excited about the season that they marked it (the day of opening day) on the calendar on the board the first day of school. They kept improving and cheering each other on. It was very much a team effort and team mentality.”

{span}Cherry is in her 13th year as co-coach of the boys and girls teams. She formerly coached the teams with Tom Duralek. Kane is in her third year as co-coach.

{span}”I was so excited when word about it (Coach of the Year) was texted to me,” Kane said. “We talk to the kids all the time to put in the work and then at the meet to have fun and do your best. They’ve done all the work and had the confidence, and a lot of our success came from that confidence. They’re good human beings, too, and respectful, excellent student-athletes. The team is growing and expanding. People have heard of our success and want to be part of it.”

Can't get enough High School sports? Get the latest scores, game highlights and analysis delivered to your inbox each week

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Contact: 609-272-7210

Staff Writer

I’ve been at The Press since January of 1983. I cover all sports in general, but mostly lifeguard racing, and high school field hockey, football, swimming, basketball, crew, baseball and softball.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Load comments