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Haley Anderson was born into a swimming family. Her mom swam for the University of Hawaii, her younger sister currently swims for the University of Utah, and her older sister swam for the University of Arizona and was also a 2012 Olympian. Anderson began swimming at age 4 and quickly grew up to be a strong swimmer. “Even though we all swam, our parents wanted to give us opportunities in lots of sports so we also did soccer, cross country, track, and softball.”
Anderson grew up near Folsom Lake in California and would walk over with her sister to swim. “I hate walls and turns. I feel more relaxed in open water,” says Anderson. As a young swimmer, Anderson broke several team records and had a successful high school career.
After graduation, Anderson swam for the University of Southern California. In 2010, Anderson turned her focus to open water swimming and was given a spot on the United States’ Open Water team after her first open water race at the 2010 U.S. Open Water Championships.
BORN: November 20, 1991
HOMETOWN: Granite Bay, CA
HEIGHT: 5 ft 10 in
WEIGHT: 150 lb
COLLEGE: University of Southern California
OLYMPIC MEDALS: Silver Medalist in 2012
OTHER TITLES/NOTABLE WINS: World Championships, Gold Medalist in the 5K Open Water, 2015 and 2013
In 2012, Anderson qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team, along with her older sister, Alyssa. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Anderson was the first American to medal in marathon swimming—taking home the silver medal in the 10K marathon swim. This was a great accomplishment given that she had only begun competing in open water two years earlier. “My sister had won a gold medal the week before my race and I knew I had to bring home a medal, too.” When Anderson won silver, she missed winning the gold by .4 seconds.
In 2016, Anderson missed the Olympic podium–placing fifth overall. It was a violent open water swim with the reigning world champion swimming over another swimmer and getting disqualified. “Doing so well at the London Games, I had high expectations for myself. It was a bit violent in the water and I was pushed around a lot,” says Anderson. “I’m proud of how I handled it and I never gave up.”
The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are far enough away that Anderson isn’t thinking about competing again yet. For now, she is content to travel and pursue an interest in interior design and fashion.