Paul Powers appears to be preparing for a situation that, from the outside, seems ideal. On Monday, the rising North Hall High senior and four-time swimming state champion, gave a verbal commitment to compete for the 2013 National Champion University of Michigan starting in 2014.
Powers, one of the nation’s best sprinters, will learn to perfect his craft in the pool from Wolverines coach Mike Bottom, who is regarded as one of the best sprint coaches in the world.
Powers was recruited by all the nation’s top swimming programs, including Auburn, Stanford and Tennessee, to name a few.
After a one-day visit to Ann Arbor, Mich. with his father, Randall Powers, and Splash Aquatics club coach, Andy Deichert, Paul got the feeling that swimming for Michigan, combined with an almost full athletic scholarship, made it an opportunity he couldn’t pass up on. Powers plans on signing his National Letter of Intent early in fall semester.
“To know that one of the best sprint coaches ever has picked me to anchor the sprint program is such an honor,” Powers said. “Michigan has such a prestigious program and great history.”
Powers, who plans on majoring in engineering, made a well-informed decision. He’s made trips to most of the campuses of the other swimming powerhouses, whether to compete or gauge how he liked the campus. After the trip to Michigan, he took a little more than a week to think about it, before saying he for sure wanted to be a Wolverine.
While in Michigan, he conversed with some of the university’s other All-American and National Champion swimmers to learn more details about the program. Powers says he was immediately impressed with the bond the swimmers had with Bottom, who coached 50-meter freestyle champions at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
Although the distance from home was initially an issue, Powers feels like he’ll acclimate well to life at Michigan, which has won 19 Men’s Swimming and Diving National Titles, when the time comes.
“I think going to Michigan is what’s best for me,” said Powers, who is a three-time All-American and Scholastic All-American. “I know my family and friends are supportive of my decision.”
Spots on the Men’s Swimming and Diving program are hotly contested. The Wolverines are able to pick the best from the U.S. and abroad to fill out their roster. Swimming legend Michael Phelps competed at Michigan and claimed 18 gold medals before retiring after the 2012 Summer Games.
At 16, Powers did the 50 freestyle in the 2012 Olympic Trials. With one year of high school remaining, Powers is the state-record holder in the 50 freestyle (19.9 seconds) and in the 100 (43.9). His first goal as a freshman at Michigan is to make it to the NCAA meet in the 100.
Communication increased between Powers and Michigan at the Ultra Swim Grand Prix meet in May in Charlotte, N.C.
Randall and Paul both reached out to Michigan’s coach at the meet since they were aware Bottom was already interested. That turned into an unofficial visit to see the campus. They were impressed with the total package that Michigan’s campus, athletics and academics had to offer.
“It’s a great opportunity,” his father said. “But Paul’s going to have to be ready to do the work.
“It’s going to be hard academically and hard training swimming.”