Sedona high school swimmer denied a shot at defending state title

A high school swimmer from Sedona can't defend his title in the freestyle because of a mistake on the roster that wasn't his fault.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 8:39 PM MST
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SEDONA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Sedona high school swimmer had a chance at back-to-back state titles. But that chance is now gone because of a mistake on the roster that wasn’t his fault.

Sedona Red Rock High School has tried to persuade the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) to let senior Carlos Lattanzi swim. But they’ve been turned down. “I was like a little upset about it,” Lattanzi said. “So I was in a bad mood.”

Lattanzi has been doing a lot of thinking since he found out he wouldn’t get to defend his state title in the 500 freestyle. “I would have been looking forward to that,” he said. “And then hopefully winning swimmer of the meet, swimmer of the year. But because I can’t swim that 500, I’m not in contention anymore.”

Carlos’ coach at Red Rock High School confirmed to Arizona’s Family that even after a last-second change to the school’s list of swimmers, she had entered the school’s information to AIA officials a week before this past Sunday’s deadline. But when she was reviewing posted swim meet information on Monday, she noticed Carlos’ name wasn’t on the list of 500 freestyle competitors.

“It has to be in by the deadlines,” AIA executive director David Hines said. “There are no exceptions.” Hines says this isn’t the first time a swimmer has been disqualified due to an entry error. “The coach either forgot, didn’t do it right, or forgot to add a kid to the list,” he said. “If we change a rule, then what rule do I change next when something else comes up?”

Carlos’ dad Rick Dembow understands where the AIA is coming from. But he still doesn’t understand why the focus isn’t on what’s best for the athlete. This was Carlos’ last high school race and one of his last chances to position himself for a college scholarship. “There are national coaches watching these results,” Dembow said. “He’s a senior and he’s applied to all the Division I NCAA schools, some of which the coaches were waiting for some of these results.”

As for Carlos, his waiting game is over. Instead, he’s working on turning any lingering frustration into motivation for his other races. “I’m kind of using it as a way to focus for my relays,” he said. “I’m just grateful I get to swim at the final meet of the high school season, of high school in general. Looking forward to spending it with my teammates as well.”

Carlos will compete in three other events at this weekend’s state championships. He’s hoping the AIA will at least let him swim a timed 500 freestyle separate from the state title swimmers to have a time available for college coaches.