Building Champions: Haley Anderson

Building Champions: Haley Anderson

By USA Swimming  | Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Haley Anderson is a three-time Olympic qualifier, with many accolades over the course of her career. Anderson won silver in the 10k open water race at the 2012 Olympic Games, her first foray into Olympic competition. She is a four-time national champion in the 5k open water distance, and has won five medals – two gold, two silver and one bronze – at the Open Water World Championships. Most recently, at the 2019 World Championships, she won silver in the 10k, becoming the first American woman to medal in that event at Worlds.

Here’s a look into Anderson’s life, both in and out of the pool.

How has swimming made a difference in your life?

My swimming career has been the greatest journey I could have never imagined. It has taken me to college, brought me some of my closest friends and has given me the opportunity to travel the world. It has been a huge blessing with many lessons learned and memories made.

Last year, you qualified for your third Olympic Team. What’s kept you swimming for so long?

There are many factors that have kept me swimming for so long, and the older I get, the more I think about what makes me happy. Most of the things that bring me joy have stemmed from swimming, and the world it has opened for me.

Swimming has opened my eyes to traveling not only for racing, but for myself. Being able to travel across the world has been incredible. It has created this love to see new places, meet new people and enjoy different cultures. I’ve gotten to swim in some of the most beautiful lakes and oceans all over the world. This has given me a passion to see more of our world and explore new waters. 

What are some of the intangibles swimming has taught you?

Swimming is one of those things that not only makes me happy, but has made me a better person. It has taught me to push myself further than what I thought was possible. One of my favorite feelings in this world is the satisfaction after a hard and nearly impossible practice. It’s knowing you are tired, but you gave it your all and you got better that day.

Who are you outside of the pool?

Even though being an athlete is a big part of my identity, it is only one side of it. There are many things outside of the pool that are important to me, and family is up there in the top.

My parents have been the best supporters from day one. They guided and supported me, but never forced anything. It was important to them that my sisters and I be the lead in our stories. It helped me grow and decide for myself what I wanted and how to get there.

My family has kept me grounded and helped me create my own drive and work ethic. My sisters (pictured with sister Jordan, above) have been my best friends and my biggest role models. I feel so lucky to have two strong women like them by my side and supporting me no matter what. When I take a step back, it is fun to see how different the three of us can be and yet how we all can overlap as well. Unfortunately for my parents, they have raised three stubborn and strong-willed individuals. The stubbornness can be a blessing and a curse, but it has gotten us far.

What are some of your passions outside of swimming?

Creativity and expression are also important to me. I love everything from fashion and interior design, to a great book. I may not know where life will lead me to after swimming, but I hope it has to do with a creative world like one of those.

To me there is nothing better than a good book. It lets you escape into a new world and get lost in the characters. I fell in love with reading when I was young and read Harry Potter for the first of many times. I couldn't be stopped after that.

My absolute favorite thing to do is ride my bike down to the beach and read a book while I lie in the sun.

You mentioned fashion. Can you elaborate on that?

Fashion has always been a passion of mine. When you spend most of your time in swimsuits and workout clothes, you start to look forward to styling your outfit. There is a fashion and fundraising event called the Met Gala, and I look forward to seeing the red carpet every year. It is one of the most expressive and glamorous red-carpet events all year. I would love to be able to be a part of that creative and styling process. Designing clothes to designing living spaces to me is about self-expression, and I find joy in art created by others. I think I enjoy interior design and architecture so much because it creates a home, and to me a home is where my family gathers.

What struggles do you face as a professional swimmer?

Finding a support staff outside of our coaching staff. I am still training with my university coaches but have had to find outside resources to maintain my physical health, such as massage and physical therapists. That means I am commuting a lot around Los Angeles and am in need of a reliable car. Since driving back and forth in between practices can be hard and time consuming in Los Angeles, I have to stay on campus between practices and am not able to rest that much.

To learn how the USA Swimming Foundation is helping build champions like Haley, please visit



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