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February 18, 2014

Helping extend the legacy

North Andover's Petrozza stars for nine-time state champion Prep swimmers

Chalk up another swimmer who would rather swim for his high school team than his club team.

But North Andover’s Anthony Petrozza admits that he might not be a typical case.

He, after all, swims for St. John’s Prep and that’s not your typical high school swimming team. The Prep has a dynasty going in boys swimming, having wrapped up its ninth straight state title over the weekend.

In Sunday’s Division 1 state meet, the Eagles once again romped to the crown with 400 1/2 points, far ahead of runner-up Westford Academy (302 1/2).

During the last dozen years, St. John’s coach Tony Padvaiskas of Methuen has accumulated a record of — at last check — 148-10 and rarely been challenged.

In the state meet, the senior anchored the winning 200 medley relay team, was on the 200 freestyle relay that finished second and came in fourth individually in both the 50 and 100 freestyles.

In previous years, Petrozza was a valued relay member but, on a team with All-Scholastic stars like Ryan Fortin of North Reading (Harvard), Aaron Athanas (Dartmouth) and Peter Fallon (Denison), he was more of a strong complementary swimmer.

Even this year, Petrozza was often overshadowed by standouts like Alex Swaim and John Bennet. But that’s fine with him because he just likes being a member of the powerhouse Eagles.

“I love high school swimming and I love swimming at St. John’s,” said Petrozza. “We focus on being a team at St. John’s and we’re always pulling for each other.

“Coach (Tony Padvaiskas) always says we’re only as strong as our weakest link, so we’re all about having everybody do well.”

Which also, of course, has an upside individually.

“With so much competition, it definitely pushes you to be better,” said Petrozza, who swims for Phoenix Swimming out of Cedardale in the offseason. “I’ve definitely gotten better swimming here.

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