YOUNGSTOWN - Last year, Howland's Aimee Gysegem almost made a splash into the state meet in Canton.
The Howland sophomore placed seventh in the 500-yard freestyle and ninth in the 200 freestyle at last year's Division I district meet at Cleveland State University.
Though she didn't advance to state, it's a familiar place to her. The Division I swimmer has seen her older sister, Emilee, who now excels at Clarion University, be part of the Division II state swim meet during her four years swimming for Lakeview High School.
The two sisters have had coach Frank Supancic mentoring them. Supancic coaches Aimee and other area swimmers as part of Penguin Swimming at the Beeghly Natatorium on the Youngstown State University campus.
Aimee competes for the Penguin Swimming club since Howland does not have swimming team. Emilee was part of the Warren Harding Aquatics Team with Supancic before she graduated in 2010.
"I really admire her for where she's gone with her career and continued to work hard," Aimee said. "I know she learned all that from coach Frank and her experiences in high school.
"I hope that I can follow in her footsteps in that aspect."
Aimee is more of a distance swimmer than Emilee, who competed in the 200 individual medley (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle) and the 100 backstroke.
"I'm not a very good sprinter," Aimee said. "I'm better at longer events. At the end of the race, I can go faster than I can at the beginning of a race so I can build off more distance, so the distance ones are better for me."
As for Howland junior Brandon Sekanick, he is relying on his 100 breaststroke to vault him to Canton.
He finished eighth at last year's Division II district at CSU and is steadfast in his strokes this season.
Thus far, Sekanick has swam 1:03.17 in the 100 breaststroke.
"I have good technique in it," he said. "I've been swimming it since I've been a kid. I've always enjoyed it."
Grand Valley junior Joey Ray, who is the first Mustang swimmer since the Mustangs' team disbanded more than a decade ago, is happy with his 50 freestyle.
He took 16th last year in districts and 19th in the 100 freestyle in Division II.
"My 50 is better because it's a shorter distance," Ray said. "I'm still good at the 100, but it's a lot more sprinting than the 50.
"I like how (the 50 is) there and back. It's the quickest race and it all happens so fast."
As for Lakeview senior Nick Preston, he wants to get faster in his 200 and 500 events in Division II.
"Dropping time in either event would be really great - drop two seconds at districts in the 200 and I'll take anything in the 500," he said.
He said both events are in his comfort zone, but more the 500.
"I'm really not a sprinter, so it's hard for me to get my momentum going," Preston said. "In the 500, there's time for more mistakes. I feel I have a better chance at it."
As for Gysegem, her best times in her 200 and 500 might get her a ticket to the state meet next month. She has swam 1:56.1 in the 200 and 5:08 in the 500 - both faster times than last year's district.
"Looking at the competition now and seeing where everyone is excelling, the 200 free seems to be very fast," Gysegem said. "Both events are, but the 500 free is my better event. I think I have a better chance of it."