By Annalise VenHuizen
For the 2005 Calvin men’s swim team, saying “it runs in the family” is no cliché; it’s simply the truth.
When Naperville, Ill., natives senior Peter Boumgarden and his freshman brother, John Boumgarden, were young, they followed the same strokes as their older sister, a swimmer. “I decided it was something I wanted to do, too,” Peter said.
Peter started to swim when he was about five years old and was swimming year-round on club teams by age 10. John also started swimming, wanting to be like his older brother.
Both went on to swim at Naperville North High School and on club teams, but not always together. “We were in different age groups on the club teams, and in high school I didn’t qualify for spots on the relays that Peter swam,” said John.
But now, on the college level, John and Peter swim sprint relays together and are doing it in great time. They also swim in individual events, with Peter holding records in the 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly, and 200 individual medley.
“We are a lot closer now than we were in high school. I don’t see John as a younger brother, but as a friend,” Peter said. John echoes the same sentiments: “Peter is definitely a best friend of mine, with the rivalry and challenge, as a mentor, leader and role model.”
Though John followed Peter into swimming, he chose Calvin on his own. John said that Calvin stood out because of its lofty academic reputation. The academic side of Calvin also appealed to Peter, who had been looking into NCAA Division I and Division III schools.
Peter was undecided about his swimming career in college when he was choosing schools, so he ruled out the Division I schools. He was attracted to Calvin’s highly academic, yet Christian atmosphere. It wasn’t until he arrived at Calvin that he decided to keep swimming competitively.
Having already gone through things that test a college freshman, Peter offers advice to John, using his own experience. But John said that he also offers advice to Peter. “We are able to be open with each other. We bounce ideas off each other, let the other one know where strengths lie and where we can improve,” John said.
Peter is not only the big brother to John, he is also captain of the team. He, along with 32 other athletes — two from each sport, participated in the Leadership Conference that was held last summer in Montana. “We had an opportunity to learn about principles of leadership and did team activities for relationship building. There is now greater unity among teams and team captains, too,” said Peter.
Although the conference was very beneficial to Peter as a leader, an encounter with a rattlesnake will probably haunt him for the rest of his life. According to Peter, it was late and he was going to the gazebo to get his guitar. He opened the door and heard a rattle and started to run. Peter and some other athletes informed Lyle, the ranch hand, about the snake. Lyle killed the rattlesnake, but wasn’t about to let the incident go.
The next day, Lyle gave Peter an envelope that rattled when he opened it. Peter suffered another scare when he was sent on an errand. Other athletes at the conference attached a rattle to the end of a fishing pole and rattled it while Peter was walking down the path.
“Unrattled” back on the Calvin campus, Peter is graduating this spring with a degree in business and communication. He is currently looking into educational programs in organizational behavior with an emphasis on leadership. He hopes to teach at the college level.
John is undecided about his undergraduate studies but is sure that he wants to continue with school after college. “I am leaning towards political science or a health-related field,” John said. He wants to either teach at the college level or work in an urban setting after pursing an advanced degree in public health or policy.
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