By Bob Schaller//Correspondent
All Haley Anderson did last year was shine as a star at NCAAs, take second at Nationals to make the Olympic open water qualifier , win that, and then go onto win silver in open water at the Olympics – while coming close to making the team in the pool as well. Wondering where she’s been and where’s she is going? Haley Anderson explains in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
1. How is swimming going?
Haley: Swimming is going great. I am a little tired right now because we are training hard. We have had some hard meets. But I am feeling good.
2. You are wrapping up a great career at USC already – how is that possible?
Haley: It’s pretty crazy. One of the coaches was asking me the other day, “Are you ready for your last dual meet?” It’s crazy to think this is my last year. It has gone by really fast.
3. Coming back for the spring term, how is school?
Haley: I am only in two classes! So it’s not like I am that busy in terms of school. I am taking two really interesting classes, one to help you get ready for the work world – I don’t have much to put on my resume in terms of work experience, except camp counselor. The other class is ethics in entertainment, which is really interesting. We have some good speakers who come in, including one who worked for Disney recently.
4. How did you get all of what you did into 2012?
Haley: I mean, it is crazy to think about the past year and how much has happened. But, I mean, I wouldn’t want it any other way – the busy-ness, the craziness, it’s all been great.
5. You and Alyssa winning medals in London, again in very much your own ways – yet on the same team – typical of who you two are, isn’t it?
Haley: There are some aspects of ourselves that are similar, but even our similarities are different.
6. How hard was it setting your body clock and training period for open water qualifiers, then the Olympic Trials?
Haley: It is hard, but we did qualify before pool swimming so in that aspect it was a little easier. But it was hard because you are so focused on making it. I still had pool trials, too, so it was a lot to focus on and not get overwhelmed.
7. Were you overwhelmed at pool Trials?
Haley: They were actually really fun – I was so relaxed at that meet. It was so different from my first Olympic Trials in 2008, because I couldn’t even think (laughs) at my first one – I was just a bundle of nerves. This time I came in with the idea of having fun with it.
8. After going such a long road to even make the open water team, you weren’t considered a serious medal contender, it seemed like in the international media – perhaps from the fatigue, or the field – did you feel that way at all?
Haley: I only talk about my goals with my coaches, so I was really only concerned with what I thought my chances were. My coaches and I knew I had a good chance of medaling, but I didn’t want to broadcast that. I like to keep my goals in my own head or share with my coaches. I like to keep those things private. I’m too private to tell people what I hope to do. So I liked to play the role of underdog, but I knew I could do something at the Olympics.
9. You were smiling before you won silver and looked so happy – did that surprise even you?
Haley: I was surprisingly really relaxed before the race. When I dove in, I was soaking up everything. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just happy to be there. Halfway through the race, I was like, “Okay I am happy to be here, but come on, let’s do something!” At that point I wanted to do more than just compete at the Olympics.
10. Have you been able to put your mind around what it means now to not only be an Olympian for life, but to have an Olympic medal and all that went into earning it?
Haley: Yes, I mean, it has been months since it happened, but it’s so hard to explain and to put into words. It was one of the best moments ever, but what meant the most was sharing with family, friends, coaches and teammates who helped me get there.
11. How about recently in open water with how the U.S. is doing, with Emily Brunemann and Eva Fabian?
Haley: That was really exciting to see Emily and Eva do so well at World Cup races. The open water team is really small, and really tight knit, so we are really happy when one of us does well. It’s nice to have friends who are truly happy for you. These are really nice girls who really do care for each other.
12. The depth of U.S. women’s open water swimming, isn’t it staggering at this point to have such talent?
Haley: Yes, yes we have that kind of depth; we have so many girls who have done really well on the international scene. No one can say the U.S. isn’t up there, and competitive with the other countries. It’s exciting to see that progress and be part of the progress.
13. Emily a veteran, Eva at Yale and still young, Ashley Twichell burning that amazing path across the country from Duke, you at USC, Chloe Sutton’s outstanding performances – how unique of a group is this?
Haley: It is crazy because we are all so different and took different paths, but we are all in the same boat. They are really good people, too, all of them, so it’s nice to be around them and keep with them.
14. Alyssa told me your family had its own little community at the Olympic Games – how many were there?
Haley: Our group seemed a lot bigger than it actually was because some of them (laughs) were loud! You know Alyssa, she’s always loud and fun. My little sister Jordan seems shy to strangers but once she’s with her family, she’s one of the loudest. My father and I are more the quiet, reserved ones who just watch the women in the family go…my dad and I just watch them go crazy!
15. How did you keep focused with so many things to do to even earn a qualifying spot to make the U.S. team, get the U.S. a spot, and then medal at the Olympics?
Haley: It was harder since there were so many stepping stones to get to the Olympics. Each time I passed one it was like, “Okay, onto the next one.” It really was like that. Especially with being in school during that period and wanting to perform my best academically, it was, “Let’s take one thing at a time.”
16. What was London like?
Haley: The whole experience of London was pretty amazing. We got to go sightseeing. My boyfriend came to watch. He was there for a few days and I got to spend time with him for a few days, then he went off to France with one of his friends from USC. A bunch of us from USC – including several water polo players – got to go around London together. So I got to be with my U.S. National Team family and my USC family as well.
17. Your sister getting gold – what did that mean to you knowing what she’s been through and how hard it has been at times, to rise to the top in her finest moment?
Haley: I’ve seen all the years and hard work and dedication she put into swimming. I was so unbelievably happy for her. She’s one of the hardest working people I know. She was like my idol growing up – I saw how hard she worked, so I knew how hard I had to work to get to that level. I was really happy for her, she deserved it. We were up early in Canada watching it, so it was exciting.
18. You weren’t in London?
Haley: No, we had training camp, so I was in Quebec. We got to go to the French part of Canada, they got to go to the real France (Vichy) for their (laughs) training camp. We had been to Quebec in 2010, and Alex (Meyer) and I had been on that team, and stayed in the hotel, so it was nice to have an experience where we had been there and knew how things work. Eva came with me to train, which worked out perfectly because she was doing the Canada World Cup race, and Arthur Frayler trained with Alex.
19. How many times did you and Eva watch Harry Potter, and which movies were they?
Haley: We actually wanted to go see the new Batman movie that had just come out. But we were in French Canada, so they only show it in French; they only play movies in English on Thursdays, so we went and saw it. We didn’t see any Harry Potter, but of course we talked about it – she’s my go-to (laughs) for Harry Potter!
20. So what’s up next for you with school ending – will you keep swimming?
Haley: Well, I am going to finish up my eligibility, and then hopefully be a professional swimmer. I am kind of scared about it, because it seems a lot harder than it used to. I am part of a team now, so I will be on my own, and I want to have something to fall back on as I start trying to earn a living as a professional open water swimmer. Though I am making a resume for school, I don’t know if I will be working right away outside swimming; hopefully, I will be able to earn enough to chase my dreams.