Howland swimmer quietly finding success

EDITOR’S NOTE:?This is the first of a new weekly series featuring area high school seniors.

YOUNGSTOWN – It’s pretty simple for Brandon Sekanick – swim the 100-yard breaststroke.

For those who aren’t familiar with the technique, it looks like a crawl through water, similar to the moves a frog would make.

But don’t look for Sekanick to leap out of the water and celebrate.

“If the whole swimming and academic thing doesn’t work out, he’d be a wonderful poker player,” Sekanick’s Penguins Swimming coach Greg McAtee said.

The reserved 6-foot-3, 150-pound Howland High School senior keeps his successes internalized.

“Most of the time I get out I’m pretty calm, but if it was a good practice or personal best at a race, I’m pretty happy,” Sekanick said. “I don’t really show it, but I’m content.”

Sekanick, along with a handful of Howland swimmers, have joined Penguins Swimming at the Beeghly Natatorium on the Youngstown State University campus. Howland does not have enough for a team and, therefore, must swim at meets, especially sectionals, districts and state, as individuals. Swimming as an individual can be rough, especially when you hit the lows of the sport.

“Sometimes it’s hard to keep myself motivated,” Sekanick said. “Sometimes I have to admit the practices really suck. When you go to meets and get the good times, you get another burst of excitement about the sport. You’re like, ‘Wow. This is definitely worth something. I’m doing something.’ “

Last season, Sekanick swam at the state meet for the first time in his career. However, he took 24 out of 24 in his 100 breaststroke.

“I really didn’t know how to handle it,” Sekanick said. “I went out and swam that day. I still tried my best, but I don’t think it was near what I wanted.”

What he wants this season is to cut his time to less than a minute. Right now, he’s ranked ninth in the northeast region, according to, with a time of 1:02.31.

“The thing I’m looking forward to is getting over that minute,” Sekanick said.

McAtee said it is possible to dip below a minute.

“I still see room for improvement for Brandon,” he said. “I think being a senior and all, sometimes this is my last swim. You see some pretty magical stuff. There’s a lot of room for improvement that you could see him take it under a minute in that breaststroke.”

Sekanick has found ways to trim some of that extra time.

“This year I focused a lot on my starts and turns, so hopefully I’ll drop a few seconds from that,” he said.

He’s put up some of the best times of his career this season, putting him with the upper echelon of area swimmers.

“Brandon is so humble that he doesn’t realize how good he actually is,” McAtee said. “Experiencing some of the success of making the state meet, I think was a big confidence boost for him. Not that he didn’t have confidence before, but knowing, ‘Hey, I’m as fast as these other people.'”