At this point, Paul Powers knows he controls his own destiny to reach his ultimate dream of swimming in the Summer Olympic Games in 2016.
A far off dream just a couple years ago, Powers, a 16-year-old North Hall High sophomore, has started putting things together in the sprint events with appearances in the Junior Nationals in the summer of 2011, Short Course Nationals in December, and hopes to qualify next for the Olympic Trials this summer in Omaha, Neb.
"I think my dad (Randall) is the one that motivates me the most to do well," said Powers, who stands 6-foot-4 with an 81-inch wing span that aids in moving rapidly through the water. "When I go into a meet, I'm going to swim my best and try to win."
Even though he just got into competitive swimming a couple years ago, the results are already proving that he's got a chance to be one of the nation's elite.
At the Junior Nationals last summer, he met the time standards to qualify for the Short Course Nationals.
Then he took it a step further with a time of 20.47 seconds at the Short Course Nationals in the 50-yard freestyle, which was good enough for seventh overall out of a national field of swimmers mostly 17 and 18 years old at the meet in Austin, Texas.
"When that happened, I was just like, ‘Wow, I'm 16 and finished seventh in the country,'" said Powers, who is ranked No. 1 among 16-year old swimmers in the 50 meter long course. "Now, I'm just doing what I can do to get even better."
Making the Olympic Trials this summer is a matter of making qualifying times in his events (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke).
He can meet those times in any number of competitions, including the high school state championship meet that takes place next weekend at Georgia Tech.
Powers is gunning for the state title in the 50 in the Class A-AAAA category, along with a top-three finish in the 100 freestyle.
Randall Powers believes that making the Olympic Trials this summer for his son is well within reach.
Now that Paul's through with his junior varsity basketball season, training will ramp up to two times a day. Training will be frantic for the next few months, then start to taper down before a big meet in Indianapolis late this spring.
"Paul's already very motivated, so he doesn't have to be pushed," Randall Powers said. "My job is to get him the exposure that he needs.
"These next three months are going to tell the tale."
Powers doesn't have to go at it alone with his training.
Along with his 14-year-old brother Ty, who is also nationally ranked in his age group, he receives personalized training with Andy Deichert, who also coaches at Emory University.
Powers says that Deichert travels across the country with him to meets.
Coach and swimmer have a training schedule that covers at least 10 hours of workouts each week in the pool, but also incorporates martial arts, weightlifting and core strength training.
"Andy gets me really pumped up for races," Powers said.
"He goes with me to all my meets and it's really great to have him there."
In addition to that, Powers works with another coach, Sabir Muhammad, a former All-American and PAC-10 champion at Stanford University, and now based out of the Atlanta area.
Paul said that his father takes care of all the dietary needs for swimming at an optimal level.
"The most significant gift that Paul possesses is his competitive drive, which seems to give him the ability to rise to a higher level of competition," Deichert said.
"The higher the stakes, the more sturdy is Paul's climb."
Paul's father added that North Hall swim coach Debbie Duncan has been very helpful and accommodating in working with his son's two-sport schedule during the season.
"Coach Duncan has allowed a lot of flexibility," Randall said.
With Powers' success this year, he sat down with his father recently to outline some goals to keep his career moving in the right direction.
One goal is to set a new national record for his age group in the 50 freestyle long course (23.3), while another is to make national cuts in the 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke.
Paul says that the competition is great this year and produced the fastest times at the Junior Nationals.