Cal Star Destin Lasco Headed For Another Dazzling Season, And Greater Appreciation

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Despite Consistent Excellence, Cal Star Destin Lasco Still Might Be Underappreciated

As the collegiate season prepares to heat up with dual-meet competition and, eventually, midseason invitationals, major discussion has surrounded – and rightfully so – the talent of Arizona State sophomore Leon Marchand. There has been ample chatter concerning the impending impact of Canadian star Joshua Liendo at Florida. And on the women’s side, Virginia’s quest for a third consecutive NCAA title has been a leading topic.

Lost amid these worthy storylines is the return of Destin Lasco for his junior campaign at Cal-Berkeley. As an 86-point scorer for the Golden Bears during their NCAA-championship run last season, Lasco is undoubtedly one of the most-dynamic performers on the collegiate scene, an athlete who can supply varied pop to the lineup of coach Dave Durden.

A New Jersey native, Lasco crossed the country to join Cal’s powerhouse program and immediately delivered on his potential as a freshman. He was phenomenal as a sophomore, too, as he managed a trio of top-four finishes as an individual and contributed to a quartet of high-scoring relays at the NCAA Champs. Did he receive proper credit for his contributions? Within the team, absolutely. Without Lasco, the Bears would not have topped Texas in the team standings.

But the wider audience, it can be argued, has not afforded Lasco the attention he deserves. Some of the oversight can be attributed to the excellence of Marchand at the 2022 NCAA Championships, and the widespread contributions which carried Cal to their latest crown under Durden. Meanwhile, Lasco isn’t a flashy guy. He gets in the water, tends to his work, and moves on. It’s an approach that deserves an appreciative nod.

Maybe the best way to grasp Lasco’s skill set is to look at his achievements in black and white. Here is a rundown of what he pulled off at his last NCAAs.

  • Champion of the 200-yard backstroke behind a winning time of 1:37.71.
  • Runnerup in the 200 individual medley, clocking in at 1:38.21
  • The fourth-place finisher in the 100 backstroke, thanks to a swim of 44.36.
  • His 44.64 leadoff leg jumpstarted Cal to victory in the 400 medley relay.
  • Lasco split 18.69 for the second-place 200 freestyle relay and covered his leg on the third-place 400 freestyle relay in 41.67. On the 800 freestyle relay, which placed fourth, Lasco checked in with a split of 1:31.83.

While Lasco totaled 52 points as an individual, he added 34 points in relay action. More, he was Cal’s anchor on all three freestyle relays, proof of the confidence placed in Lasco by the Cal coaching staff.

Lasco already kicked off this season in impressive fashion, as he captured King of the Pool honors in Cal’s season-opening competition at Cal-Poly. En route to winning, Lasco posted times of 47.19 in the 100 backstroke and 48.52 in the individual medley. Not bad for a September outing.

Over the next six months, Lasco will be at the heart of Cal’s success, and chase for another NCAA title. A run at Ryan Murphy’s American record in the 200 backstroke (1:35.73) is likely. More than anything, though, wherever he’s needed, look for the junior to excel. It’s what he’s always done during his time in Northern California.

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