Antonio Lanzi grew up on Amsterdam’s McGibbon Avenue, opposite the house in which we raised our four kids. I remember the day the Alpin Haus crew pulled up in front of their home and began digging out the hole that would become their swimming pool. Before they made the decision, Antonio’s Dad, Larry Lanzi had come across the street and asked me how I liked the pool we had put in several summers before. I gave him my pros and cons, telling him it was a pain in the butt to keep clean because of all the trees situated around it but that my own kids had loved it growing up. I’m glad I didn’t try to talk him out of it because, as it turned out, the swimming pool would be the best investment Larry and his wife Rosemary would ever make.
Sure enough, Antonio and his older brother Chris were in it all day every summer. One afternoon, I happened to be over there while they were playing some sort of fetch game and watched as Antonio, who might have been six or seven years-old at the time, swam the length of their pool. To see someone so small and young be able to move through the water so quickly made your jaw drop. I mentioned it to his dad the next time we saw each other and Larry laughed and said something like “I hope he sticks with it!” He sure did.
With his devoted Mom Rosemary’s help, Antonio started competitive club swimming in grade school, and developed into the greatest swimmer in Amsterdam High School history. He competed four seasons for the AHS varsity swim team and set five individual and two relay records during that career. His shining moment came during the 2012 New York State Championships when he won the 200-meter freestyle crown and finished third in the 500-meter freestyle.
That backyard Pool proved to be the first step (or should I say first dip) in a process that would culminate in a full-swimming scholarship for Antonio to the University of Buffalo. Antonio was named Rookie of the Year during his freshman season on the Bulls’ Varsity Swim team. He went on to have a solid four-year career at UB and after graduating has returned to this area to become an important part of his family’s local culinary empire.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering this new generation of the Lanzi family at work in one of their eateries, you realize instantly that the legacy Antonio’s great grandfather Luigi started on Bridge Street way back during the Prohibition is in excellent hands for at least another 40 years. The one thing that can get overlooked about this young man’s swimming success is the amazing amount of work and effort he put into the sport starting at a young age and over a lot of years.
And if ever there was a perfect Lanzi to get the family involved in a seafood restaurant, it would have to be Antonio because he literally grew up in the water. Happy Birthday Tono!