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

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

Albina Osipowich Van Aken ’33, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts, began swimming while still a youngster. By the time she had reached her teens Albina had completely run out of competition and asked if she could swim against the boys at the Worcester Boys Club. As you can imagine, her request brought more than a few guffaws from the virile young men of Worcester. But her request was granted. The doors to the Boys Club were opened, and the results were startling. In her first day in the pool, Albina proved she could outswim all the young men in her specialty, the dashes. Her times were so good for that period that she was selected for the United States Olympic Team that competed in Amsterdam. She was just 17, one of the youngest athletes ever to compete in the Olympics. The 1928 Olympic team was one of this country’s best. The swimming group was especially strong, including Johnny Weismuller, who became “Tarzan” just four years later. Albina Osipowich continued her winning ways in Amsterdam. She captured a Gold Medal for winning the 100-meters in the new world record time of 1:11 and then came back to take another Gold Medal as a member of the 400-meter relay team, which did a 4:47.6. The good town fathers in Worcester were so excited about this young woman who had put their city on the map that they offered 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 Medal Olympian – Helen Johns, now Helen Johns Carroll ’36. She was a member of the U.S. Women’s 400-meter relay team that won its event in 4:38, a new world record. For awhile it appeared that the Pembroke swimming team of 1932-33 would feature two Olympic Gold Medalists and smash all collegiate competition. Unfortunately, a ruptured appendix sidelined Mrs. Carroll for the season and this “dream team” never materialized. Albina later married Harrison Van Aken, Jr. ’36 in October 1936. She died in 1964.