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Opportunity despite small team
By Cloud Cray '10

Kurt VanAllsburgSince joining the team as a freshman, Kurt Van Allsburg has called three different swimming pools “home,” migrating from Calvin’s campus to East Grand Rapids High School during the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex constuction, then finally returning to the newly completed Venema Aquatic Center. Inside that facility, Van Allsburg took the year-and-a-half interlude of low team membership and off-campus practices as an opportunity to push his teammates to work harder.

“We invested in each other. That’s one of the best things about the swim team— the community. That’s the kind of community that brought me to Calvin,” said the senior captain.

Van Allsburg had raced in the 50 and 100 freestyle events throughout high school, and only began swimming the 100 backstroke in college. “I sort of discovered the 100 back just to avoid doing the 200 free,” he admitted. “Now it’s my best event.” Van Allsburg also participated in a number of relays, making it onto Calvin’s record board in the 200-free relay.

Van Allsburg first got his feet wet in eighth grade and continued on both his school and club team throughout high school at Grand Rapids Christian High. Upon graduating, he originally planned to attend a large public college out of state. But after an overnight visit to Calvin, he changed his mind.

“Here, I’ve really grown and matured to appreciate all that I’ve been given, whereas at a secular school I feel I would have learned to take everything I had for granted,” he said.
But that growth didn’t come without challenges. During the time at East Grand Rapids, Calvin’s team membership dropped sharply. At certain points, the team fell short of the 18 allowable competitors—a situation that probably cost them a few wins. Van Allsburg said that though it was discouraging at times, he picked something to fight for and encouraged his teammates to do the same.

“When you’re given gifts, you can choose to use them in a half-hearted way, and you can still enjoy them. But God gave them to us to use to their full,” he said.

When you pour yourself into something, that’s when you can live life the way God intended it.”

Van Allsburg carries that passion into his education as well. After graduating
this year, he intends to continue on to graduate school pursuing a PhD in chemistry. He then plans to continue with research and possibly begin teaching.“I feel strongly about giving others the opportunities I’ve been given,” he said,“especially in education.”

After two years as team captain, Van Allsburg leaves the men’s swim team with high hopes for its future. He praised this year’s freshmen for their hard work and determination and believes that they have set the tone for the Calvin swim program.

“God doesn’t care about whether you win or lose,” he said, “but he does care about
how you live your life. You can choose to live with the same passion God has for us.
That’s all He wants from us.”

See the Men's Swimming and Diving Web site.