North Hall High graduate Paul Powers earned a bronze medal in the 50-meter freestyle Friday at the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea.
Powers, who now swims for the University of Michigan, finished with a time of 22.34 seconds — 0.12 seconds behind gold medal winner Tsurkin Yauhen of Belarus. Brazil’s De Souza Martins Henrique took the silver medal with a time of 22.24 seconds.
Fellow North Hall graduate Ty McCormack finished eighth in the competition’s 10,000 meter run Thursday with a time of 29:44.82. The race marked the end of McCormack’s amateur career, following a successful five-year career split between Clemson, where he was an undergraduate student, and Auburn, where he completed two graduate degrees.
Powers and McCormack were among only 550 U.S. athletes invited to participate in 21 sports at the World University Games. The competition is open to athletes, ages 18-26, who represent a four-year institution, either as an undergraduate or graduate student.
“The odds of two athletes coming from the same high school are pretty slim,” McCormack said in a June 29 interview, only days before leaving for South Korea. “Especially since North Hall isn’t a big school or private school.”
Powers said the World University Games is the second largest international competition behind the Summer Olympics. The former North Hall standout hopes to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Going to the World University Games is a real confidence boost for me,” Powers said in an interview before leaving for South Korea.
“It shows me how much potential I have for next year.”
Powers said the highlight of his freshman season at Michigan was taking eighth place in the 50-yard freestyle at the national championships. He was one of just five freshmen to swim the 50 freestyle in the ‘A’ finals at the NCAA meet in the past five years.
McCormack, who was the 2014 South Region Cross Country Runner of the Year, competed in the World University Games despite recently battling the effects of exercise-induced asthma. His breathing problems started after winning the 10,000 with a time of 29-minutes, 21.39 seconds at the famed Penn Relays on April 25.
McCormack said he was “incredibly honored to be able to represent the U.S.” at the World University Games.