Albina Osipowich Van Aken
Albina Osipowich Van Aken
Hometown: Worcester, MA
Team: Swimming & Diving

Albin Osipowich Van Aken '33
Hometown:
Worcester, MA
Sport:
Swimming & Diving
Year Inducted:
1984

Albina Osipowich Van Aken ’33, a native of Worcester,Massachusetts, began swimming while still a youngster. By the timeshe had reached her teens Albina had completely run out ofcompetition and asked if she could swim against the boys at theWorcester Boys Club. As you can imagine, her request brought morethan a few guffaws from the virile young men of Worcester. But herrequest was granted. The doors to the Boys Club were opened, andthe results were startling. In her first day in the pool, Albinaproved she could outswim all the young men in her specialty, thedashes. Her times were so good for that period that she wasselected for the United States Olympic Team that competed inAmsterdam. She was just 17, one of the youngest athletes ever tocompete in the Olympics. The 1928 Olympic team was one of thiscountry’s best. The swimming group was especially strong,including Johnny Weismuller, who became “Tarzan” justfour years later. Albina Osipowich continued her winning ways inAmsterdam. She captured a Gold Medal for winning the 100-meters inthe new world record time of 1:11 and then came back to takeanother Gold Medal as a member of the 400-meter relay team, whichdid a 4:47.6. The good town fathers in Worcester were so excitedabout this young woman who had put their city on the map that theyoffered her a scholarship to the college of her choice. And,Albina’s choice was Pembroke. Four years later Brown,’36, or Pembroke, if you prefer, had another Gold MedalOlympian – Helen Johns, now Helen Johns Carroll ’36.She was a member of the U.S. Women’s 400-meter relay teamthat won its event in 4:38, a new world record. For awhile itappeared that the Pembroke swimming team of 1932-33 would featuretwo Olympic Gold Medalists and smash all collegiate competition.Unfortunately, a ruptured appendix sidelined Mrs. Carroll for theseason and this “dream team” never materialized. Albinalater married Harrison Van Aken, Jr. ’36 in October 1936. Shedied in 1964.