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Calvin, cell phones and swimming: Kat Vinson is thankful for much
By Lynn Bolt Rosendale

Kat Vinson is grateful that she found Calvin College. “It was definitely a ‘God-thing,’” she said. “We had never heard of Calvin until some students from Calvin came to our church during interim a few years ago. My mom talked to some of them and thought Calvin sounded like a great place. She went right home and looked it up on the internet, and we added it to the list of schools to consider. In the meantime, God changed my heart and mind in what I wanted in a school, and I found Calvin was the right place for me.”

But Calvin is a long way from Kaneoho, Hawaii, Vinson’s home. That’s why she is also thankful for cell phones.

“I talk to my mom a lot,” she said. “Being away has been hard,” she said. “My mom and dad came to everything in high school.”

Kat Vinson
Kat Vinson (Kaneoho, Hawaii)

This year the Vinsons were not able to see their daughter’s success on the swim team, though they did check swim meet results regularly on the Web site.

“My mom feels like she knows the other swimmers, too, because I talk about them so much,” she said.

It was her mom, Mary, who also suggested that Vinson participate on the swim team.

“I have been swimming since I was eight years old,” said Vinson, “but I mainly played water polo in high school. My mom encouraged me to fill out the recruiting form for the Calvin swim team, and then [coach] Dan [Gelderloos] called me. Now that I’m doing it, I know this is exactly where God wants me to be in my life.”

That statement, made on a snowy February morning in Michigan, might be hard for some to comprehend, Vinson admitted. “I’m not bothered by the weather and the snow, though,” she said. “I expected it to be colder.”

Vinson also was not expecting the kind of success she experienced on the swim team this year.

As members of the women’s 400-meter freestyle relay squad, Vinson and her teammates, Stephanie Duncan, Abby Johnson and Becky Weima, set a school and MIAA record in the event at the MIAA championship meet. Their time of 3:31.48 also qualified them for the NCAA Division III national championship, held in Holland, Mich.

Vinson also qualified for the 50-meter freestyle event and swam the 200-medley and 200-freestyle relay.

At the national championship the team’s 400-meter freestyle relay tied the best-ever finish by a Calvin women’s relay team (set the night before by the 800-meter freestyle relay team) with a fourth-place All-American finish.

“Kat’s biggest attribute is her competitive side,” said Gelderloos. “She likes to race and beat people to the wall; she proved that time and time again this year. Out of the water, Kat is very strong in her faith, supportive of her teammates and always encouraging. All in all, Kat has been a great addition to our swimming family.”

While the swim team proved to be a nice fit for Vinson, she is even happier with the way swimming fits into her whole experience at Calvin.

“I am so happy to have the time to explore other things at Calvin,” she said. “Swimming is taken seriously, but I don’t have to eat, sleep and breathe swimming. I have had time to build relationships with friends and to study and do many of the other things associated with college life.”

In addition, Vinson is grateful for the opportunity to grow spiritually, she said.

“In my group of friends in high school, I was the only Christian,” she said. “It’s nice to be supported in my walk with Christ; there are people here who keep me accountable. I like being with people who believe in the same things I do.”