Aspiring photographer, North Hills swimmer Josh Bogniard seeks picture-perfect WPIALs

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Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 9:01 AM


When North Hills senior swimmer Josh Bogniard isn’t in the water, he’s often taking photographs of some. Icy waterfalls, mossy streams and a duckweed covered pond appear on the aspiring photographer’s Instagram account.

Bogniard focuses his camera on nature, landscapes and people. In recent months, he relied heavily on his love of photography when his first love — swimming — was taken away from him for awhile.

High school sports were shut down twice statewide because of the coronavirus pandemic, first for months last spring and then three more weeks this winter.

Swimmers like Bogniard can still feel the effects.

“The biggest challenge for me was the mental battle,” he said, “because all my life I’ve been swimming. I’ve never had something like this taken away from me. When swimming was canceled, I kind of didn’t know what to do.

“My mental health just went downhill. It’s something I learned that I had to fix.”

That’s where photography came into the picture. Some of his photos on @BogsPics come from North Park, Schenley Park and McConnells Mill State Park, but his favorite location is West Virginia.

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An Ohio State recruit, Bogniard owns the WPIAL’s fastest times this season in the 100-yard freestyle (46.62 seconds) and 100 backstroke (51.39). He placed second in both events last season, so folks might see a picture of him with two gold medals hanging around his neck this winter.

The WPIAL swimming championships are March 6-7.

“That’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about since last WPIALs,” he said. “I kind of left WPIALs last year with unfinished business.”

Both times are slightly better than his regular-season marks from a season ago, but Bogniard said he doesn’t focus much on the numbers. Fretting about fractions of a second doesn’t make him swim any faster, he said. That’s an approach many swimmers have adopted this winter after their training was interrupted.

From August until November, Bogniard said, his training was some of the best of his life.

“When we had that lockdown in December, that really screwed me up,” he said. “I still haven’t bounced back from that. I still face that struggle today, but I’m definitely close to where I want to be. Just not there quite yet.”

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When Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration paused interscholastic sports in December, he also closed private gyms, leaving swimmers nowhere to go.

Bogniard searched for workout routines on dry land that would mimic the muscle movements of swimming, but didn’t find anything similar. So, he focused instead on running, cardio training and core exercises.

“Getting back in the water after weeks of not being in, it’s hard,” Bogniard said. “It’s an endurance sport. You have to build up and you have to be consistent, but when you’re out of the water for so long, it’s so hard to get back in shape.”

The WPIAL each week releases a list of the top times. Bogniard’s name appeared in multiple places in the latest list with Top 10 performances in the 50 free, 100 fly and 200 IM.

North Hills coach Lucas Marsak credits Bogniard’s worth ethic and ability to self motivate.

“He’s willing to set ambitious goals and go for them,” Marsak said.

“He has a great skill set that he continues to develop. His feel for the water, his explosiveness, he has athleticism that he’s bringing to life in the water.”

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Bogniard, who’s 6-foot-5, committed last summer to swim in the Big Ten for Ohio State. His best event right now is the backstroke, but he said that’s not always true.

“It kind of changes from freestyle and backstroke pretty often,” he said. “It seems like every time I get back in the pool after a lockdown or time off, it seems like it switches.”

Swimming keeps Bogniard’s schedule busy, especially in the winter. But he continues to find time for photography, and he’s turned his camera skills into a side job taking product pictures for various businesses.

His interest turned into a passion two Christmases ago when he received a camera as a gift.

“I like to go hiking a lot and I love the outdoors,” he said. “I always took pictures with my phone but it never did it justice. When I got a camera, I was able to show people what I was seeing through my eyes.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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