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Beloit College swimmer Alan Brint overcomes blindness

March 16, 2016

(From WREX TV, Rockford)

Beloit, WI --

"I don't have to care what what's on other people's minds when I swim, so it makes it very peaceful."

When Beloit College prepares for a home meet, Highland Park High School graduate Alan Brint goes through his warmup routine.

"It's actually not as hard as you think it would be," Brint says. "I just stay close to the lane line when I'm training."

Alan is blind - staying close to the wall keeps him on course. Growing up, that's been his top priority - navigating and adapting to his surroundings.

"He was always a kid first and blind maybe ninth or tenth down on the list," says Alan's mother Betsy. "Other people saw it as more of a problem than he did."

Alan found his aquatic outlet growing up, following a family tradition.

"I just fell in love with the water when i was ten years old," Alan says. "I loved it, and still do. I just love getting in the pool and letting all my energy out."

Betsy adds, "My father was a swimmer in college, captain of his swim team. My brother was a swimmer and we have a lot of swimmers in the family."

Learning the craft was not without its challenges, but when Alan made a breakthrough, he left his father David at a loss for words.

"The idea of leaping off the blocks and going head first in was really difficult. He would take belly flops and go in all sorts of ways," David Brint recalls. "We were at a practice one day and I was in the stands. Anyone who's ever been a swimming father, you sit there for hours and hours and nothing really happens. I just happened to look up at one moment and the coach was working with him, and all of a sudden, he reached out and dove into the water. I'm not an emotional guy but it was such a big accomplishment. Ever since, he's learned flip turns and diving into the water."

Alan's high school career at Highland Park ended with a feature piece in the Chicago Tribune, and a top five finish at state in the disability division. He humbly shrugs it all off.

"It was awesome. I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say it was the greatest thing in the entire world. I won't say I've accomplished enough because that's not who i am as a human being."

Collegiate recruitment came next, and a meeting in Beloit.

"I said yes, of course," says Bucs head swimming coach Kevin Schoeber. "Biggest things we're looking for - all about the program. He said it sounded great. He looked at other schools and what not. A few months later he ended up depositing here at Beloit and here we are now."

"What an opportunity that has been," says Betsy. "It's been great in every aspect and we're really grateful for that."

During Beloit's meet, Alan's teammates are always there to lend a hand during relays and cheer him on in the water.

"For us on the swim team, we're looking for the commitment and hard work, the times will come," says Coach Schoeber. "He's a great example of hard work and dedication and us welcoming him, and him showing us what can be done. It's impressive to everyone."

Out of the pool, Alan is still adjusting to independence on a college campus. 

"Oh my God, I had these visions of him walking down streets and getting lost, what does he do?" says David "What if his phone doesn't work? He spent a lot of time memorizing the campus. He has to know every little landmark, and if he misses one, he has to know another one and know what it is."

From Alan's point of view, he wants his senses to absorb his environment on his terms.

"Somebody can tell you the way to live. Somebody can tell me exactly how they want me to live, but it doesn't mean anything if I just figure it out and figure out what to do because the best way for me to learn is to just do it."

That's how Alan conquers his blindness, inspiring and motivating those who watch him with every dive, turn, and lap in the pool.

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