North Hall’s Paul Powers is fine with living his life in the public eye as an elite swimmer. He knows his list of major accomplishments in the pool makes his name and face easily recognizable to many people in the area. That’s fine with Powers, a junior, who wants to generate as much positive attention to the sport as he can.
“Any attention I can bring is good because people are starting to know more about the sport,” Powers said. “I try to represent the sport well.
“People are definitely going to watch me and see how I act.”
For his latest act, Powers breezed to two individual state titles, and led the Trojans’ 200-yard freestyle relay team to a first-place finish at the Georgia High School Association state meet last month at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. For his efforts, Powers in The Times Boys Swimmer of the Year.
Even at only 17, Powers, who is being courted by all the major college swimming programs, is used to taking the swimming world by storm. He swam the 50-meter freestyle in the Olympic Trials last summer in Omaha, Neb., as one of the youngest swimmers in the field. He’s also been mentioned in Sports Illustrated for his accomplishments this school year as well.
However, his biggest accomplishment to date was shattering the state’ record in the 50 free with a time of 19.91 at the state meet, swimming the first leg of the 200 relay in the state finals at Georgia Tech. Powers’ mark broke his own new state record set the previous day of 20 flat in the 50 free preliminaries.
Powers says he felt especially motivated to go under 20 seconds for the first time in the relay, knowing he needed a good time to help his other three teammates try and piece together a state championship. That they did.
“It was great to be able to win with only four swimmers at state,” Powers said.
Starting fast, Powers knew his leg was going when he hit the wall and turned for the final 25 yards. Making the new state record was a moment of elation for Powers.
“I went crazy when I knew I had the state record,” Powers said. “I had finally done it.”
On top of that crowning achievement, Powers also claimed the two individual state titles. He won the 50 free state title with a 20.21, one day after his first state-record mark in the 50 (20.0) in the preliminaries. He beat his younger brother, Ty, in the finals by .59 seconds.
Then in the 100 free, Powers breezed to the title in the 100 with a 44.49, nearly three seconds in front of the second-place finisher.
Now that Powers owns the state record in the 50, he’s gunning for the national record of 19.54 at the same distance. His eventual goal is to go under 19 in the 50.
One way of intensifying his training is working in multiple disciplines, including the 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and 200 butterfly. He also does just as much dry land training to generate maximum explosive strength under the guidance of his coach Andy Deichert.
Already, Powers has undergone a major transformation in his physique, now standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 215, 30 pounds more than this time last year, he said.
Powers would also like to set a record in the 100 free, trying to break the current mark of 44.02.
“It’s a standard I hold myself to, to try and break both records,” Powers said.
The list of schools Powers says are interested in having him attend their school include Michigan, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State, Stanford, Arizona, Texas, California, Kentucky and Harvard, among others. According to Powers, he’ll be able to have contact with coaches starting in July.