By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Staff Writer
During the regular season, Mainland sophomore Katie McClintock broke a school record in the 200 IM that had stood since the 1990s, and in March she won her first state individual championship, setting a meet record in the Meet of Champions prelims before taking the title in the 200 IM. And yet, she’s still probably the sixth or seventh most well known female athlete at Mainland High. Kylee Watson, Taylor Dalzell, Claudia Mairone, Claire Pedrick, Camryn Dirkes and Alivia Handson have all made names for themselves in sports such as basketball, soccer and track.
“Mainland is so talented. There are so many talented athletes here,” McClintock said. “Swimming doesn’t get as recognized as much as basketball or soccer, but the people here deserve to get recognized because they are so talented and those are really hard sports.”
“It’s a blessing to have so many athletic kids in one place, like Kylee Watson, Claire Pedrick, Drew DeMorat — these are kids who work so hard every day to put Mainland on such a great athletic level,” added junior Destin Lasco, who also won a title at the Meet of Champions this year. “And the camaraderie with the teachers and the athletes being able to work together, I feel like Mainland is such a great school. That’s reflected in our results as athletes and as students in the classroom.”
Lasco is a name that just about every high school sports fan in South Jersey knows, as he’s a national caliber swimmer who this winter gave a verbal commitment to the University of California, and has his sights set on someday making the Olympics.

Sophomore Katie McClintock broke a school record this year that had stood since the 1990s and went on to win an individual state championship. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


But Glory Days Magazine’s Swimmers of the Year bring a lot more to the table than just name recognition. Sure, they both are top swimmers in the state and each has won at least one individual state championship, and Lasco has helped the Mustangs win the team state championship in each of his first three seasons. But they are both outstanding students, and even better people.
“Katie is a great athlete and an even better person outside the pool. She takes her academics very seriously, and one part I’m really excited to help her with is her recruiting process with colleges,” said Lasco, a junior. “I can’t wait, because I was in her shoes last year with all these big colleges, just being bombarded on Instagram. They’ll start contacting her and I’m excited to help her with that part, give her a sense of how to talk to coaches, what to look for in programs and who has the best package of academics and athletics.”
McClintock said it was a huge thrill for her to be able to win a state championship in just her sophomore year.
“It was really exciting to be a state champion, and to break the record of Colleen Callahan, who I’ve known since I was little because she was on my club team,” she said. “In the finals, I knew I was ahead, but regardless I try to go after it at the end. Even though my time wasn’t as fast as it was in prelims, I was still happy because it was a drop from last year.”
Lasco came into Mainland three years ago, and before he even got into the pool there was some major buzz about the kid who might one day end up being the best swimmer in school history. He knew there was going to be huge expectations put on his shoulders, but he took it all in stride and sought advice from his older brother on how to handle all the hype.
“I don’t let it get to my head too much because at some point we were all a beginner. One thing I really love to do is give back because I was in their shoes at one point, being a beginner. Like the freshmen, I wanted them to experience their first state title. Records come and go, and they’re meant to be broken, but winning a state title — nobody can take that away from you, and I was so glad the freshmen and sophomores got to experience that. It will motivate them next year to train even harder,” he said. “I wasn’t really nervous because I had the guidance of my brother, Glenn, who really helped me stay humble and just have fun with it. It’s awesome because high school swimming is all about the team. When I go to USA Swimming or club, it’s also about the team, but it’s more individual and there is more pressure on yourself. Just being able to swim for a team is a great feeling.”
McClintock’s rise to prominence hasn’t been quite as meteoric as Lasco’s, but she’s still well ahead of the pace of most high school swimmers. She’s only halfway through her high school career, and everybody in swimming circles knows all about her talent.
“Going into my sophomore year, I kind of just wanted to improve. I wasn’t really looking to break any records — if they happened, they happened. I’m pretty happy with how the season went and I’m excited to see what the next few years hold for me. I don’t really pay attention to records, every year I’m just looking to improve upon what I did last year and do more technical work. After freshman year, I just wanted to work on my mentality because the past few years I felt like I’ve been at a plateau and my mentality wasn’t as great. So, I wanted to boost my confidence a little bit and get more training in. I think that really paid off,” she said. “Freshman year, I learned how to race. This year was a great learning experience because I knew how to put myself in the right mindset to have a positive attitude before meets, and keep working on my technique.”
Both Lasco and McClintock are very high level club swimmers who spend the offseason traveling to big-time tournaments. Lasco currently is in Colorado for a few weeks doing some altitude training. But whenever they are interviewed, all they want to talk about is their respective teams, and how much they enjoy being a part of Mainland swimming.

Junior Destin Lasco is one of the top swimmers in the nation, and this winter gave a verbal commitment to the University of California. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


“This team is very strong, we’re very well rounded. There are a lot of girls who have improved this year and we have a lot of great sprint freestylers, which helps for relays, and we’re going to be even better next year, so I’m excited,” McClintock said. “My favorite experiences from high school swimming is just being with my teammates at every meet; watching them improve and reach their goals is really fun for me. Even if they don’t swim year-round, when they reach goals they never thought they could, that’s pretty cool.”
Mainland’s boys team has been overwhelmingly dominant the past four years. The Mustangs have won four straight state titles and gone 57-2 during that span. The girls squad has been very good, too, and is getting to the point where it can challenge standout Cape-Atlantic League teams like EHT and Ocean City.
“The boys team has a lot of energy and they are very good, and that inspires the girls team to keep going after it. We may not be state champions — yet — but we’re working hard every day, and we want to get better,” McClintock said. “I’ve learned a lot from Destin. We can relate to each other, and it’s good to have somebody like that, who is at a high level, to relate to. He’s very dedicated.”
The future, no doubt, will hold more standout performances from this pair, and more records being broken is a pretty good bet. Lasco already has more than a dozen school and national records combined. But, records, times and trophies aren’t what Lasco and McClintock want to be remembered for once their prep careers are over.
“It is nice to please the press and the people, but it’s also nice to know that we are doing the right things in practice and our hard work is showing up in meets,” Lasco said. “Being a positive influence for Mainland and helping the team is the most important thing at the end of the day, being remembered as someone who cared a lot for the team and had great relationships with teachers. That’s the most important thing because records come and go, but people remember how you treated them, and that’s something important that you want to leave behind.”
Added McClintock, “You can work really hard in the pool and be one of the fastest swimmers in the country but not be a good teammate, and you won’t leave a good legacy behind by doing that. The most important thing is being proud of your teammates, being supportive, and while trying to achieve your own goals, help others achieve theirs.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays