Connor LaMastra '21 astounds early in Big Green career
Connor LaMastra ’21 takes a deep breath on the starting block before a race.
Already more than halfway done with the 2017-2018 competitive swim season, Connor LaMastra ’21 has made a huge splash for the men’s swimming and diving team. With 10 wins in various meets and a school record for the men’s 200-yard butterfly, LaMastra has already made a name for himself.
But it was not always that way. Swimming and diving head coach Jamie Holder noted how he recruited LaMastra.
“I was in contact with [LaMastra] at Georgetown [University],” said Holder, who served as head coach of the Hoyas until 2016. “When I first got to Dartmouth, he was a little lower on the radar. Then he had a really strong summer before his senior year, and I was able to bring him on.”
Although he has been swimming since he was four, LaMastra only joined the competitive swimming circuit when he entered high school as a freshman at Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. His high school career included USA Swimming Scholastic All American in 2017 and three-time Georgia All-State, as well as qualification to national-caliber races, including Next College Student Athlete Nationals, Junior Nationals, USA Swimming Futures and Winter Nationals.
When recruitment started, LaMastra knew he wanted to swim in college.
“When I started getting into it, swimming became a big part of my life,” LaMastra said. “I have really learned to grow and [understand] how difficult it is to be an athlete at the college level. I have learned to make sacrifices and put in a lot of time and have a lot of respect for college athletes.”
LaMastra initially planned to attend Georgetown, because of his relationship with Holder. But when Holder moved to Dartmouth following the 2015-2016 season, LaMastra’s sights quickly shifted to the Big Green. LaMastra said the phenomenal coaching staff, the D-Plan and his campus visit convinced him to attend.
LaMastra quickly settled in, making his presence known in his first collegiate meet against Boston College. Leading the pack for Dartmouth against the Minutemen, LaMastra took home three individual wins and was instrumental in the team’s victory.
“At the Boston College meet I wasn’t thinking about myself or how I was performing at all,” LaMastra said. “The Boston College meet was one of the most fun and supportive meets that I have ever been to. [It] is where the team finally came together; and the freshman class really felt like they were contributing.”
LaMastra set his school record in the 200yd butterfly at the Tate Ramsden Invitational last weekend.
“Seeing a teammate break school records or pool records provides a huge morale boost during a meet,” co-captain Henry Senkfor ’18 wrote in an email statement. “Seeing that race helped fire us up for the final relay that we were then able to win, which propelled us to victory for the meet as a whole.”
Senkfor also pointed out the fun and lively atmosphere that LaMastra brings to the pool deck, including his eclectic playlists.
“[LaMastra’s] been a great influence for our team,” Senkfor wrote. “He comes in ready to work, loves to compete and brings a winning mentality every single day. He’s never afraid of a challenge and constantly tries to improve. [LaMastra] sets the example for what everyone should strive to be like in both practice and meets.”
LaMastra’s positive and competitive influence on his teammates is something the coaches have noticed as well. As Holder continues to build the swimming and diving team throughout the next few years, he noted that LaMastra can be a key piece in helping him realize the vision of having a top-tier swim program.
“Thanks to a combination of an amazing coaching staff, a motivated freshman class and a more positive team attitude, the team has improved significantly more this year than anything I have ever seen,” Senkfor wrote. “I could not be more happy with how this season has gone and could not be more excited to see what the future of the team has in store.”