One of the most important developments of the preseason in area high school swimming is that Mainland Regional star Destin Lasco will not compete this season for the Mustangs.

Lasco, a senior at Mainland, is training for the U.S. Olympic Trials with PDR Swimming for Success, a United States Swimming Club in Philadelphia. The three-time Press Boys Swimmer of the Year will devote all his swim time to that goal.

“He’s an exceptional talent, and his focus right now is to try to make the Olympic Team,” Mainland Regional boys swimming coach Brian Booth said of Lasco. “We support him in it. We knew there was a possibility this would happen before he got here (as a freshman). We support him, and we’re happy for him. When the Olympic Trials come up, there will be no bigger cheering for him than from Mainland.”

Mainland has won four consectuive state Public B titles and five straight South Jersey championships. Lasco, one of the top high school swimmers in the nation the last three years, broke numerous national public school meters records in his three seasons with the Mustangs.

Sprinter Liam Garbutt, a senior, is the Mustangs’ lone returning first-team Press All-Star. Garbutt won the 100-yard freestyle and had a relay win in February as Mainland beat Scotch Plains-Fanwood 98-72 in the state Public B title meet. The Mustangs ended the season ranked No. 4 in The Press Elite 11. Other returnees include seniors Charlie Sher and Evan Denn and juniors Cole Garbutt (Liam’s brother) and James Bradley. Erik Truong and Skylor Booth (Brian’s son) were also first-team All-Stars who graduated. Truong was a first-teamer all four years.

Mainland will open the season at home at 4 p.m. Tuesday against Rancocas Valley Regional.

“The goals are the same, and everyone is going to have to put up their fair share for us to be successful,” Brian Booth said. “It’ll take a total team effort. We’ll try to build up the swimmers we have, to meet the expectations of what we did in the past.”

Lasco will be missed for a variety of reasons.

“It goes without saying that we’ll miss his leadership and swimming,” Booth said. “Also, Destin was like a coach on the deck with his insight and knowledge of the sport.”

Garbutt is now in a leadership role.

“We got down for a while thinking about what we lost, but now we’re focusing on getting better as a team and seeing where we can go,” said Liam Garbutt, an 18-year-old Linwood resident. “It’s like an honor to have a leadership spot. I’ll try to do my best at it. I’ll try to help the team be the best it can be, and swim faster for myself."

Sher concentrated on the 400 freestyle last season but will also do the butterfly and sprints in 2019-20.

“We’re doing well and enjoying it,” said Sher, a 17-year-old Northfield resident. “We definitely got used to it (winning titles). You always have to try hard, and we’ll have to try harder without Destin. I think everyone has gotten faster. We definitely expect to do well. Our freshmen are looking good. We lost a lot, but we’ve still got the speed, and we still got the muscle.”

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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.

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