Swimmer Spotlight – Michael Power

Michael Power

Michael Power

Name: Michael Power
Age: 54
Occupation:  Retired from Santa Barbara County Sheriff and University of CA Santa Barbara Police, currently doing some limited flight instruction
Team: COMA (but also represent Santa Barbara Masters depending on the season)

I met Mike Power this summer at the Marin County Meet in Novato, CA.  He was talking to a mutual friend of ours and she introduced me to him as my Oregon teammate.  Mike used to swim for Santa Barbara Masters but moved to Bend in January 2022. I found Mike interesting to talk to but what really grabbed my attention was that he had flown himself to the meet from Bend! Also, he is a very fast swimmer so it was hard to ignore his times.

Michael grew up in Santa Barbara but didn’t swim as a youngster.  He was born in Toronto, Canada, but moved to Santa Barbara at the age of 4 when his family purchased a Volkswagen camper van and drove across the United States to California. He started playing water polo in high school where he admits he was a pretty decent sprinter. He began to supplement his water polo training with swimming and quickly realized that he was faster and better in this sport. He stuck with swimming and before he knew it he was on a plane to Junior Nationals. “My 100 yard free was starting to come together whereas my 50 was still a chop fest.”

Michael swam two years at Lewis and Clark College in Portland (with current COMA teammate Cheryl Morgen) where he was an NAIA All-American in 1987 and 1988.  The 100 and 200 free were his best events in those years. He took a year off to train for Senior Nationals in Santa Barbara and then transferred to Wheaton College in Illinois.  During his junior and senior year he specialized in the 50, 100 and 200 free and 100 butterfly.  At Wheaton he swam two years NCAA Division III where he was All-American both years 1990 and 1991. Wheaton College placed 3rd as a team in 1990 and 4th in 1991. Mike says his two years at Wheaton College are some of the best memories he has. “I would never trade that time.  Our men’s team was so bonded and we were there to race. We didn’t mess around. All business.”

“I wouldn’t call myself a gifted swimmer.  I think my work ethic is what got me to that level especially in college and with Senior Nationals.  What drove me was my frustration watching the swimmers who made it look so easy, who never came to practice and would go fast all the time; the “naturals.”  I just had to work hard to get up to their level or close to their level.”

To this day the 100 free is still his favorite event. His first club coach was really good about getting swimmers to understand the importance of a well split swim.  Mike says he is patient in going out in his races and always has a good back half. “I’ve developed a good feel for the water by watching “gifted” swimmers. As a result, I learned to swim with a very long, smooth stroke.”

After college Michael worked at the Santa Barbara County’s Sherriff Office and later for the University of CA Santa Barbara police. He was also an LA County Lifeguard from 2001-2016. Never one to sit around, Michael is taking a year off before he begins his full time aviation career.  He admits he is not starting until after ski season!  At the age of 8 he learned to ski in Brianhead, Utah where his grandfather was a ski instructor.  For his entire life he has skied at least once a year.  Having become exposed to Mt. Bachelor, he has increased his skiing days significantly.  Last year he skied 29 days and this year his goal is 40 days.  “One unfortunate thing about living in a mountain town is there isn’t any surf nearby.  I do miss surfing a lot.”

Michael and his wife, Heather

Michael and his wife, Heather

Michael also spends time standup paddling (spring/summer/fall), flying airplanes (he currently owns a 2004 Cessna turbo 182T), making flying videos on YouTube (H Mitch), and cooking for his wife Heather since she is still working full time.

“Flying has taken up a lot of my time too. I didn’t want to retire from law-enforcement and not have something to fall back on.  My love of flying has pushed me to go way beyond my private pilot certificate.”  He is currently a commercial-rated pilot certified to fly multi-engine aircraft.  He also has an instrument rating and endorsements to fly high-performance, tailwheel and float planes.  He is an instructor for single engine land airplanes and hopes to start a career flying in 2023 when he is done playing.  “I’m really lucky my wife isn’t afraid of flying in smaller planes.  We’ve taken some great trips to USMS nationals in our plane, once to Mesa, Arizona, once to Riverside, and once to Mission Viejo.  I’ve had the pleasure of having Jeff Farrell (1960 Olympic Gold medalist) as a passenger in my plane for 2019 LCM Nationals in Mission Viejo. “

Michael would like to give a shout out to his COMA lane mates Susie Rabiah, Gary DeFrange, Stacey Kiefer, Cheryl Morgen, Amy Ward, and Jacob Swinn. Michael admits that he can be pretty immature at swim practice. “It’s my social outlet where I feel comfortable being a goofball. I love racing and always believe I can do better.” Michael would like everyone to know he beat Stacey Kiefer in the 200 IM SCM by one second at the Hood River meet!  Nothing like a little rivalry among teammates!

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