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Latin Academy guns for 22nd city swim title, O'Bryant and East Boston fight for second place

Posted by Justin Rice  February 5, 2013 01:04 PM

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Latin Academy sophomore Kevin Zhang leaps into the pool for the 200 freestyle relay last Friday against O'Bryant at the Condon School in South Boston.
Latin Academy's co-ed swim team will gun for its 22nd city swimming title on Wednesday afternoon at Madison Park High. (Pavel Dzemianok / For the Boston Globe)

Juan Tapia won’t be fazed by the fact that the Latin Academy co-ed swim team will likely take its sixth straight and 22d overall Boston City swimming championship title at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon at Madison Park High.

But coming in third behind East Boston in the three-team field and allowing Latin Academy to dominate all of the events will drive the O’Bryant coach batty.

“[East Boston] won at our pool and we won at their pool so it should be good,” he said of the race for second place. “And also [our goal is] to keep Latin Academy out of 1,2,3 [place]; keep them honest. I can’t stand it when they sweep. I don’t mind when they come in 1, 2 and 4 but 1, 2 and 3 just kills me.”

Last year the Dragons (7-4) swept the top three spots in four of the 11 events to cruise to their fifth straight city title and 21st championship in the event’s 22-year history. The Dragons forfeit the 2007 meet after it was discovered that they entered an ineligible player.

“Our goal is to win the cities,” said Latin Academy coach Mark Thomas, who has been coaching the team for 33 years. “We don’t have any goals to take first, second and third in every event, that would not be realistic. We try to spread the wealth around and get as many kids involved as we can.”

East Boston coach David Arinella said his team is at a disadvantage because both Latin Academy and O’Bryant are exam schools that start in the sixth grade and therefore have students start in their swimming programs three years earlier than East Boston does.

“It’s so difficult to beat them, believe me they provide us with great competition, they really do and their coaches are great guys,” said Arinella, who has also been coaching East Boston for 33 years. “We’re not complaining because to be the best you have to beat the best and one of these years we’re going to do it and we’re getting closer every year.”

The battle for second place on Wednesday will be fierce.

Eastie (3-6) beat O’Bryant (4-6) by a score of 84-83 on Jan. 17 at O’Bryant before the Tigers struck back to beat the Jets, 53-48, on Jan. 25 at East Boston.

“Which in swimming is like a nose in horse racing,” Arinella said.

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.