50 Years, 50 Titans: The Pokornowski Brothers

Heather Scibetta

Our next Titans alumni feature is a family act, Alec and James Pokornowski.

Both brothers are extremely talented swimmers, with a long history with the Titans.

Let us first introduce you to Alec.

Alec attended Canisius High School and swam on their varsity team all four years and was captain his senior year. He continued on after graduation to attend Boston University where he also swam for all four years as well.

For the past two years Alec currently as a boarding specialist and trainer for a real estate website company called Propertybase. He resides in Boston, Massachusetts, this has been home for the past ten years.

Fun Fact:

One of his favorite race memories was when he had to swim the mile at Junior Nationals down in Florida. It was the last race of the meet and then the team could all finally go to dinner. He swam his fastest time ever, qualifying him for Junior Nationals out in California.

We asked Alec some questions, here is what he had to say:

Q: When did you join Titans?

A: I joined Titans when I was about 13 years old. A bunch of old friends and I came from clarence swim club and a neighbor down the street, Dan Donnarumma, used to drive me and my older brother to practice. It was fun swimming with everyone at the high school and college level and I was only 13. Thinking back on it now, it was a blast.

Q: Favorite memory of being a Titan?

A: One of my favorite memories I have is when my friends from titans would all come over after a hard Saturday practice. Everyone would relax and hang all afternoon during the summertime and I was fortunate to have such accommodating and patient parents to have so many people over from both levels 7 and 8. I always look back on those times with a smile on my face and hope one day we can all get back together soon.

Q: What was your most dreaded stroke to swim?

A: ….breaststroke by far hahaha could never figure it out even at the college level and Scott had me try out my hand at the 400 IM long course to make it better. It did in the end but I could never get my legs right.

Now let us introduce James:.

James has been an avid swimmer since a young age. He also attended Canisius High School, where we swam on the varsity team. After high school, James continued to Canisius College where he swam with coaches Scott Vanderzell and Tim Bennett. 

Since graduating from college, he has been employed at Joe Basil Chevrolet. His goal is to attend Auto Technician School this Fall. Swimming continues to be a large part of his life; he has been a member of the Nickel City Splash Masters Swim Club for the past two years, having former Titans as teammates. Last July, James swam and medaled in SC Masters Nationals and will compete in LC Nationals in October 2021. Good Luck James!

We asked James the same questions, here is what he had to say:

Q: When did you join Titans?

A: I was 10 years 

Q: What is your favorite memory being a Titans?

A: The friendships I made as a Titan have been lifelong and carried on into high school and college years as many Titans were my teammates. We spent a lot of time together at the pool and even more time out of the pool. A funny Titan memory- my older brother Alec was a long time Titans and collegiate swimmer. His advice to me when I first joined Titans, “James, don’t ever swim the 1000 or 1650 free because if you’re good at it, Scott will make you swim it forever!” Against his advice, I swam the 500, 1000 and 1650 at a meet and became a distance freestyler for the rest of my swim career! Good thing I gave those events a try! 

Q: What is your most dreaded stroke to swim?

A: The one stroke I have always dreaded is the breaststroke. Many memories of swimming a 200 IM ended in a D.Q. I’m still working on it.

I truly appreciate Tonawanda Titans as a constant in my athletic and social life for many years. I still swim at the Aquatic Center from time to time. Our Titans coaches taught me more than how to improve my skills, and “with technique comes speed”.  They taught me good character, teamwork, accountability, sportsmanship and dedication that have become an integral part of my work ethic to this day. 


More photos: