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Ian is a worthy inductee

Sport | Published:

ISLAND sporting heritage is littered with class acts.

Looking at swimming and the post La Vallette era, one name stands out in male terms – Ian Powell.

In terms of overall performance it would be easy to say Powell was head and shoulders above the rest, which would be ironic given that he spent his senior career coming up to the shoulders of much of his opposition.

That did not prevent him making a mark though.

He represented Guernsey at three Commonwealth Games – Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010 – and went on to swim in two individual finals, which no other Guernsey swimmer has achieved to date.

Not bad for a little fair-haired lad who at the age of three started out at Beau Sejour, joined the Beau Sejour Swim School at the age of five and then on to Barracudas at the age of 11.

Before he was finished he had represented Guernsey in five NatWest Island Games; the first in Gotland in 1999 at the age of 13 and the last in Aland in 2009 at which he won seven gold and three silver medals, breaking seven Games and island records in the process.

Back home to be inducted into the Sporting Heroes Hall of Fame, the Old Elizabethan looked as trim as in his heyday.

Among those to welcome him was the Bailiff Sir Richard Collas who remarked that it gave him ‘huge pleasure’ to induct Ian given that he himself had spent many hours poolside at Beau Sejour, some of them in the company with the swimmer’s supportive parents.

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Back in San Francisco he still swims as part of a Masters team, but it is a far cry from the tough training schedules he faced for many a year as a competitor targeting the highest honours.

‘It’s a massive honour to be part of the legends of Guernsey sport,’ he said at his induction ceremony on Monday where the only disappointment was that his long-term mentor and coach, Alison Frankland, had been unable to get back from holiday to attend.

His gratitude to his old coach will always be there.

‘Alison was my rock as a coach all my life and she made me believe in myself and installed the work ethic that was needed to get where I did.

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‘She always looked at the big picture, like getting to the Nationals and the Commonwealths and focusing on the opportunities we have in Guernsey.

‘She was always there for me to the day I retired.

‘My parents, too, as they never put pressure on me to swim. Whatever the result it was the same reaction from them and that was hugely important to keeping me in the sport so long.

‘It was my intrinsic motivation which kept me in the sport and kept me motivated, but they were just there offering their support and they were committed back in my early teenage years, getting me up to come swimming. I owe them everything.’

Representing Guernsey meant so much to him and at the induction he was delighted to see many of his old training partners and relay colleagues.

His home pool, after all, was responsible for so many great memories.

‘My favourite moments was Island Games here in 2003 and winning in front of a home crowd. I have never been more nervous before in my life, but it was really, really special.

‘Then there was the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, making two finals and being up against the Australians and the English and being really in the mix with those guys, was fantastic.’

It should be remembered that Powell’s Commonwealth contemporaries include the likes of Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett and in world terms he swum against Michael Phelps on a couple of occasions. What he lacked in height and foot size, compared to those three giants of the sport, Powell tried to make up for with other skills.

‘I didn’t quite get to their level but I focused on what I could achieve which was to work on my under-waters, my turns and make the most of what I had, it worked out well in the end.’

‘There’s been no regrets and it’s been an amazing career.’

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
author

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