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Wednesday, 22 June 2011 16:50

Powell coaching Special Olympic medal hopefuls

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jackie Powell’s 16 years of working as a Special Olympics swimming coach has paid off.

The Swift Current resident is currently in Athens, Greece, where she is the head coach of Canada’s Special Olympics World Summer Games swimming team.

“It’s very exciting,” said Powell, who left for Greece June 17. “It’s an absolute honour to be able
to represent Canada and Swift Current at an international competition.”

This will be the second Special Olympics for Powell as a coach. She was an assistant coach for Canada’s swimming team at the 2007 games in Shanghai.

Being Canada’s head coach brings quite a different role for Powell.

Each of Canada’s six coaches is usually responsible for three to four of Canada’s 21 swimmers. Powell, however, is taking on fewer swimmers during the competition because she is responsible for more paperwork, and there has been a lot of that so far.

“It would be very unusual if things don’t change by the time we get there,” Powell said of the event that runs from June 25 through July 4. “There will generally be a few surprises we’ll have to adapt to once we get there and kind of adjust our plan.

“I have a little more administrative and meetings to attend (than the other coaches). It will be easier if I don’t have as many to watch over all the time.”

Although she knows there will be a lot of paperwork and meetings at the Special Olympics, Powell will still be responsible for some of Canada’s swimmers as their coach.

That proved to be a bit of a challenge as Canada’s swimmers are from every province and one of the territories.

Powell, who was responsible for two athletes, and the other coaches held two training camps, one in November and another in April, in preparation for the Special Olympics.

In addition to the training camps, Powell kept in contact with her athletes’ local coaches and tried to attend their meets when she could.

One of her swimmers, however, was removed from the team two months ago, leaving her with Michael Qing, a Regina-based swimmer.

Qing, 17, broke eight world records at the 2010 Down Syndrome International Swimming Organization shortcourse world championships in October 2010. He was also named youth male athlete of the year at the Saskatchewan Sport Awards in April.

Powell was not sure who else she would coach at the games, but she is hoping to see a lot of success from all of Canada’s athletes at the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

“I’m looking forward to the overall experience of the games,” she said. “Of course the opening ceremonies are always a big celebration and for the most part, a really big highlight of any games of this size.

“I just want to see the success of the athletes and for them to show off the hard work and training they’ve done over the course of the year and to finally see some results and have them compete on the international stage.”

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