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Senior finds swimming an education outside the classroom
By Drew DeVries

As a four-year member of the men’s swimming team, Peter Tuuk can now sit back and reflect on his time spent at Calvin, as graduation looms in the near future.

Peter Tuuk“I’ve been very happy here and wouldn’t have chosen anything differently,” said Tuuk, a graduate of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian High School. “I’ve built great relationships, and Calvin has offered a great balance between swimming and academics. I’ve gone up against high-caliber competition without having to sacrifice anything in the classroom.”

Being named team captain this year with fellow senior Matt Herrema was a blessing and a great opportunity for Tuuk. “It was really fun being a captain with Matt because we swam together back in high school, too,” Tuuk said. “So getting one more year with a chance to lead this team together was great.”

Tuuk led by example in the pool, taking second place in the 200-meter freestyle, fifth in the 500 freestyle and 11th in the 100 freestyle at the MIAA championships this season. After finishing runner-up three consecutive years in the 200 freestyle and just missing the cut for making nationals on a relay team the past three seasons, one might expect a little frustration. But Tuuk saw it as a chance to grow.

“It’s been tough being so close — only been a matter of a few tenths of a second  — but it’s been an educational experience,” he said. “I learned a lot about myself and about when things don’t go your way. You learn to see all the other successes outside of just swimming, which has been my solace.”

Maybe everything didn’t go the way Tuuk had imagined, but he would agree with the comments made by Coach Dan Gelderloos about the men’s team getting everything it could out of the talent it had this season: “We had kind of a tough year with a few guys not able to swim at conference, which put a cramp on us, but we swam well and maximized our talent and potential. We dropped some times and fought to the end without ever giving up.”

Not giving up is something Tuuk is accustomed to. Outside of swimming, he is finishing a mathematics and electrical engineering major and still finds time to train and participate in triathlons. Last year, he finished 26th overall at the Reeds Lake Triathlon in East Grand Rapids, Mich. With the swim season over, Tuuk will begin training and working toward this year’s triathlon. “I’m just starting some training now, and this is something I can do for the rest of my life. I’m able to use a little swimming and also cycling, which is something I love, and it’s a good way to continue my training and working-out habits.”

But Tuuk is going to miss the relationships built and friends made on the swim team. “I’ve gotten to know everyone really well, especially because of some of the training trips we’ve had,” he said. One of those trips was to Hawaii during his junior year.

“The trip to Hawaii was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Tuuk said. “We were very fortunate to be able to go on that great trip and get a chance to see the world, train hard and get to know each other. The social relationships needed to achieve success as a swim team were built in Hawaii and during training trips in general.”

Tuuk is ready for success outside of the pool. He plans to attend graduate school in the fall to pursue a doctorate in electrical engineering and hopes to work for a national or corporate lab focusing on research and development.