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North Hall grad Paul Powers looking to lock up spot for US at swimming Olympic Trials
University of Michigan swimmer tackling the 50 and 100 freestyle in Omaha
University of Michigan swimmer Paul Powers, a North Hall High grad, looks up at the results following a race at the Big Ten Championships on Feb. 24 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. - photo by University of Michigan Athletics

North Hall High graduate Paul Powers will attempt to make the USA Swimming Olympic National Team as he swims in the Olympic Trials, starting today, in Omaha, Neb.

Powers, a rising junior at the University of Michigan, will compete for a spot competing in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events.

“Ultimately, I would love to make the Olympic team,” Powers said. “But my true expectations are just to swim as fast as I can.”

The preliminaries for the 100 free begin at 11 a.m. today. The semifinal will air on NBC at 8 p.m., and the final will be on Friday.

The prelims for the 50 free will be Friday morning, with the semifinal on Friday night. The final will be on Saturday.

This will be Powers’ second attempt at making the Olympic team after swimming in trials as a 16-year-old in 2012.

“It’s amazing how much you can learn in four years,” Powers said. “It’s definitely put me in the spot where I know I can hang with the guys — the best in the world and the best in the country. Whoever ends up making the Olympic team is going to have a hard-fought battle either way.”

Powers won gold medals in the 50 and 100 free at the 2014 Junior Pan Pacific Championships, and silver in the 400-meter freestyle relay, silver in the mixed 400-meter freestyle relay, and bronze in the mixed 400-meter medley relay at the 2013 FINA World Junior Championships.

He’s no stranger to a big stage.

“I would definitely say that I’ve been exposed to the national and international stage more, so I know how these things go down,” Powers said. “I wouldn’t say I’m more relaxed. I’m really in a different position than four years ago. Four years ago, I was just happy to make the Trials. I had absolutely zero expectations of making the team.

“This year, I would say the expectations are higher. I’ve had people say, ‘You’re going to make it,’ or ‘You’re going to do awesome.’ I’m swimming for all the people who have believed in me and supported me.”

Powers said, at this point, all he can do is trust his training.

“You can’t change the physical part now,” Powers said. “You just have to be able to trust your training. It’s gotten you this far and will get you where you’re supposed to be.”

Regardless of whether he makes the team for Rio, the experience has been great.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Powers said. “Being somebody who’s an outsider and not someone who is a shoo-in for making the Olympic team, I’m somebody who’s there to compete and give people a run for their money. If that gets me on the Olympic team, that’s great. If not, I’ve had a great experience getting to swim with the best guys in America.”

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