McLaughlin 1st at state, sets school mark

Dave Dyer, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
·3 min read

Mar. 4—HAVERHILL — There was no one cheering when Haverhill junior Dan (or Danny) McLaughlin won a state swimming title last month.

To be fair, no one knew at the time that McLaughlin even won a title.

Such is the state of high school swimming during a pandemic.

McLaughhin swam in the virtual state meet back on Feb. 18, with no other teams on hand, but — like everyone else — didn't know the results for a week while times were compared with swimmers from around the state.

The wait wasn't easy, but it proved well worth it as McLaughlin finished first in the 200 freestyle with a tremendous time of 1:43.14. That was a personal-best time by nearly three seconds and set a school record, formerly a 1:45.00 held by Palmer Lewis 41 years ago.

"I was pretty happy with that," said McLaughlin, who also finished second at state in the 50 freestyle with a 48.08. "I was shooting for a 1:43 but I thought it'd be in the high 1:43 range. I've got that (school) record now."

McLaughlin admits that swimming virtually without real live competition from another team isn't easy and can affect one's performance.

"It's definitely different but you get used to it," said McLaughlin, who swims for the Solo Aquatics Swim Club in the offseason. "We're just happy to have some kind of a (high school) season.

"But I know in my case, I'd go faster (with live competition). I hate losing so if I see someone right with me, I push harder. I definitely need that opponent. I swam hard (in that record 200 freestyle) but, with real competition, I might have been under 1:43."

The 200 freestyle is not McLaughlin's first school record and he's driven that it won't be his last. Last year, he set marks in the 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle.

"My goal is to get my name on the (record) board in as many events as I can'" said McLaughlin. "For my senior year, I want to get a lot of records."

Definitely in McLaughlin's sites are the 100 freestyle, the 100 butterfly and the 200 IM, but he's not limiting himself to those events and he's hoping to improve his times in the events in which he already holds records.

If he can do all that, McLaughlin's other goal is more realistic.

"I want to swim in college, at as big a program as I can, a place like Virginia or Texas," said McLaughlin. "I've got a lot of work to do for that, but I'm hoping to make a lot more improvement."

Maybe it will be possible next year with some real live competition.

ST. JOHN'S ROLLS

It may not have been as satisfying virtually, but St. John's Prep won its 16th state swim title last month. Andrew Coady of Bradford was a key member of the team, placing 10th in the 50 freestyle and being a member of the winning 200 freestyle relay that set a school and Catholic Conference record.