By Mitch Foster / Sports Information Intern
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – The decision was entirely theirs. Kinda, sorta.
It was a given that twin sisters Maggie and Megan Lasto of Orange would take their considerable swimming talents to the college level upon graduating from Amity Regional High School of Woodbridge last June.
It was also agreed upon by the twin teenage daughters of Tricia and Lee Lasto that they would continue their academic and athletic collegiate careers at the same institution.
The only question that remained as Decision Day drew near last spring was which college would land the versatile 5-foot-3 inch, 125 pound twins, Megan excelling in the butterfly, breaststroke, and individual medley and Maggie in the individual medley and distance freestyle.
While the twins drew plenty of interest from college recruiters as two of the top swimmers in the state, they had – at the same time -- also developed a natural affinity for the Eastern Connecticut State University swim program, where older sister Mollee was enjoying a celebrated, record-breaking career in the backstroke as a two-time team MVP and multiple All-NEISDA performer during her first two seasons.
Throughout most of the recruiting process, Mollee kept her thoughts and hopes mostly to herself, not wanting to overly influence her younger sisters' decision.
Until the clock was about to strike midnight, that is.
"I didn't really want to push them into making a decision," remembers Mollee. "But the day before they had to decide, I spoke my mind."
Mollee's mindset was that she desperately wanted to spend her final two collegiate seasons re-united with her two closest friends. And if Megan and Maggie had seriously been entertaining other offers, that sealed the deal for them.
"In college, it just made sense for us all to swim together because we know how each other work," said Mollee, "and if one of us is having a bad practice, we know to how push each other in the right way."
The twins' decision to join their older sister in Willimantic was also a relief to Tricia and Lee, who could now attend swimming events together, rather than splitting up in order to support the three girls at two different institutions on meet days.
This past February, the sisters culminated the season as teammates by dominating at the NEISDA (New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association) Championships. Each was named All-NEISDA in each of their three individuals events and in a combined total of eight relays. At that meet, Mollee broke all three of her backstroke records and Megan broke the program record in the 200 IM, and also captured the 400 IM championship.
In what had to be the highlight of the season, the sisters also teamed with senior Bridgett Furlong at the meet to break the program's 800 freestyle relay record.
Named team MVP at season's end, Megan enjoyed an additional accolade when she became the program's first Little East Conference major award-winner with her selection as Rookie-of-the-Year. During the season, she was voted Swimmer-of-the-Week twice and Rookie-of-the-Week four times, with Mollee netting Swimmer-of-the-Week honors once and Maggie Rookie-of-the-Week once.
At left: Junior Mollee Lasto flanked by sisters Maggie (left) and Megan.
Says Maggie of her collegiate decision, "Seeing how well Mollee did in her first two years made it even easier, and the fact that we knew all of the coaches and some of the older swimmers really helped us make our decision."
There's no doubting that these three sisters enjoy each other's company. On the questionnaire given to incoming freshmen athletes, Megan answered "My sisters, Mollee and Maggie" when asked who she'd want to be stranded with on a deserted island.
Mollee definitely enjoyed having her sisters back on her team saying, "For me, I'm so used to training with them and they push me at meets and keep me calm during races. So not having them at Eastern the first two years was something I wasn't used to."
Since the sisters all swim different events and styles it allows the trio to not get too competitive, as well as take advantage of their individual skill sets during medley relays.
Growing up, they would swim the same events and that's when their mother instilled in them "If you're going to lose, lose to a Lasto", something they still think about to this day. At meets, each sister is pulling for the other. However, practice allows the three an opportunity to go head-to-head.
Being the oldest, Mollee was the first to join organized swimming at five-years-old, shortly after her twin sisters followed suit.
Reflecting upon the NEISDA meet, Megan said, "Maggie and I were right in the lanes next to each other for the championship meet so that was something that was really fun."
Furlong offered that "Mollee, Maggie, and Megan's relationship made the team feel more like a family. I think their family dynamic made it feel more like home."
While the sisters enjoyed a special first season together, they point out that they can continue to improve. Prior to college, the twins had never spent time training outside of the pool, which is something they plan to do more so during this offseason.
Mollee looks to finish off her stellar college career on a strong note next season, while her twin sisters will try and replicate the successful career of their older sister.
This past year, a Lasto posted the fastest time this year in 13 of 17 possible events, and went 1-2-3 in the 100 backstroke and 100 IM and 1-2 in the 200 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 200 IM and 400 IM.
While looking toward their final season together, there is still one record that the sister trio wants to break: the 400-medley relay. Maggie said, "We came into the season saying that we wanted to get the record that we got together in high school and we missed it by a second, so that's our goal next season."
And because of their decision of a year ago, they will attack that goal as they have every other one. In sync.