Jordan Powers is standing at the edge of the pool at Southwestern Central School, looking off at the record board that hangs on the opposite wall some 50 yards away. His coach, Glenn Shoup, is there, too, and the pair are counting.
One, two, three, four...
At the pace they're going, one gets the impression they may never stop, but eventually they settle on a number: seven.
Southwestern boys swimming coach Glenn Shoup and Jordan Powers are seen at a practice session as Powers prepares to compete at the state meet next week.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
Seven new records set this season.
"He's definitely the fastest boy I've ever coached," Shoup says.
But while Powers has always been fast in the pool - a year ago he was the youngest area swimmer to reach the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Swimming and Diving Championships - now, in his sixth year, he's taking it to a whole other level.
Not only was the junior the sole Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association swimmer this season to reach the upcoming state championship meet, scheduled for March 1 and 2 at Webster-Schroeder High School, but he was also, and most impressively, the lone Section 6 competitor - that's right, the only one - to qualify for states in three individual events.
"Hard work," Powers says simply of his success, "and stroke technique; making sure that everything is as perfect as you can get it."
Added Shoup, "I just think that Jordan has been able to narrow down the things that we've needed to focus on to improve. He's been able to really concentrate on those things, understand what needs to be done and then work towards it."
And with just a week until coach and athlete embark to compete at the pinnacle of New York state swimming competition, the two are hoping it's a strategy that continues to bring success.
Powers is ranked No. 1 in Section 6 the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:00.47. Over the last two weeks, he has captured first place in that event at the CCAA Championships (where he set a new pool record), at the Class C Championships (where he was named Most Valuable Swimmer) and at the Section 6 Championships.
Though he qualified in three events, the rules stipulate that a competitor can swim in just two individual events at the state meet, so Powers and Shoup have decided to compete in the aforementioned 200 IM and the 100 freestyle.
"Jordan and I discussed it and we decided to opt out of the 50 (freestyle)," Shoup explained. "It's a very finicky race, and if you make even one, very minute mistake, you're out. The 100, though, is twice (the distance), and you've got a little more leeway.
"And the (individual medley), there's a lot more to it, a lot more strategy involved and it lends itself to those that can swim three or four strokes very well - like Jordan. It's why I think the IM will be his best shot to make the finals."
After hoping simply to make a state cut time last season (which he did), Powers' goal this year at the state meet is to make the finals (place in the top 24) in one, or both, of his events. And he believes, given his experience in competing at last year's meet, he should be able to achieve that aim.
Other competitions he's taken part in this season, Shoup notes, should also give him a boost.
"There wasn't (much competition in CCAA) this year," he said. "We just didn't have anybody to race, but Jordan was lucky enough to have been able to go to a couple of USA Swim Meets (the Carmel Swim Club Winter Invitational in Indianapolis, where he placed fifth in the 50 freestyle and the RIT Winter Invitational, among others) and find some tougher competition."
All in all, it's shaping up to be another enjoyable weekend in the pool for the Trojan.
"I think he's got a good chance," Shoup said. "Looking at the other times I've seen (from around the state), I think we're in a very good position."