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Junior Kevin Powers notched a victory in the 100 butterfly with a personal-best time of 1:02.19 when the North Haven boys’ swimming and diving team defeated Hamden 98-85 on Jan. 16. The win marked North Haven’s first victory versus the Green Dragons since the early 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Powers )
Kevin Powers didn’t have any competitive swimming experience prior to high school, but now he’s an integral figure for the Indians, who are having a great year with a record of 5-3. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Many things have to go right for a swimmer to win a race or record a personal-best time. Kevin Powers, a junior on the North Haven boys’ swimming and diving team, recently achieved both of those feats and did so in a huge spot to boot. In a meet against Hamden on Jan. 16, Powers took first place in the 100 butterfly with a lifetime-best mark of 1:02.19 to help the Indians post a 98-85 victory against Hamden—a team that they hadn’t defeated in several decades.
It was great news for Kevin when he learned that he’d set a personal best, but he felt happier with the fact that he helped North Haven get a big victory. Kevin and the Indians have a mark of 5-3 and are aiming for a winning record this winter.
“I could tell I had a good race. I knew that the guy I was swimming against had a close time to mine,” says Kevin. “I went into the water trying to get the win. It felt really good afterwards, knowing that I helped my team.”
Kevin tries to shut out any distractions just before he hits the water, and he used that approach prior to his big performance against Hamden. Once the race is on, Kevin makes sure that he gets a good start, but he also knows that the last leg is paramount in order to finish first. In turn, he tries to keep something in the tank for a late push in the home stretch.
“Before the race, I try to close everything else out and just get ready for the race,” Kevin says. “Then I try to save energy for the last 50 of the race, so I can catch anyone who’s ahead of me.”
The butterfly is considered one of the most difficult strokes in swimming, requiring a tremendous amount of strength, skill, and technical ability. Kevin is dedicated to improving his skills in the pool, and his commitment paid off when he earned North Haven’s Most Improved Award last winter.
“Last year, I got Most Improved for the season, and I was pretty proud of that. It was good to see all the work I’ve been putting in paid off,” says Kevin, who also swims the butterfly in the 200 individual medley and as part of the 200 medley relay. “The fly, it’s challenging. You have to use your whole body, and you have to put everything to work for it. It’s tough to have the endurance and have a fast pace.”
Kevin’s first experience with competitive swimming came during the summer before his freshman year of high school. His brother, Alex Powers, was a member of the Indians who also swam the butterfly. When Kevin decided that he wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps, he went to the summer program that’s run by Indians’ Head Coach Martha Phelan.
“My brother used to swim for the high school when he was here. The summer before freshman year, I decided to get ready to do the high school season...We went to [Phelan’s] summer swim program and got started there,” says Kevin. “My brother also swam the fly. I started out trying the fly just to see if I was good at it, and Coach Phelan noticed that I was.”
Phelan has seen Kevin transform himself from an inexperienced novice swimmer into an integral part of the Indians. Phelan says that Kevin’s resolve to become a better swimmer has paid huge dividends, and she feels his story can inspire other people who want to try varsity sports.
“Kevin is very humble and very engaged, and he wants to be better. He’s very quietly come a long way, and he’s very determined,” Phelan says. “Kevin is an example of somebody who hadn’t been training and competing and came to the sport in his high-school career. Kevin is a success story in that he wasn’t a competitive swimmer, and now, he has been an important part of the team. He’s become a go-to swimmer for me.”
Kevin feels grateful that he has the chance to compete for North Haven. He cares about his teammates and his coach, and knows that they care for him in return. Kevin says he cherishes the camaraderie that’s prevalent among the Indians.
“I’d like to say that Coach Phelan really helped me get better, and I’d like to thank the team and everyone on it,” says Kevin. “It’s good to have people pick you up when you don’t do so well, and it’s nice to have that chemistry with everyone.”
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