Anderson Sisters Competing At Different Pac-10 Schools
When you have an older brother or sister, there is a sense of acceptance that you try hard to win, and once you get it, you feel as though nothing can stop you. Normally, it's the older sibling who tends to influence their younger brother or sister into making a decision. For University of Arizona swimmer Alyssa Anderson, it was the other way around.
Alyssa's younger sister Haley, currently a swimmer at USC, stepped up to compete in the first opportunity the girls had to showcase their swimming talents. Alyssa's fear had gotten the best of her and she developed a case of cold feet.
"When we were younger, my dad signed us up for a summer swim league," Alyssa said. "I was too afraid to do anything. I didn't want to do it, but Haley decided to go through with it, so when I saw all of the attention that she received, I told myself that I was going to do it the next year."
When the next year rolled around Alyssa not only did it, but she became one of the best female swimmers in the area. And a funny thing happened that second year. Alyssa's sister, who had done so well the year before, let her fear get the best of her and didn't compete in the meet.
"I remember that I was the one that actually swam the first year and she didn't want to do it," Haley said. "When the next summer came around, she was like, 'Okay, now I am going to do it,' and I didn't want to do it. It was funny because when one of us wanted to swim, the other one didn't."
The two eventually overcame their fears and competed on the same team together from their youth and throughout high school and then during the World Championships. Alyssa, who is a little over a year older than Haley, went on to the University of Arizona where she has become a six-time All-American in the 500-meter and 800-meter freestyle and captain of the women's team. She also earned a spot on the U.S. silver medal-winning 800-meter freestyle relay team at the World Championships in Rome during the summer of 2009.
Alyssa is growing into her role as captain, and serves as an inspiration to her teammates and coaches with her work ethic and personality.
"Alyssa is certainly a hard worker who gets better each year," Arizona coach Frank Busch said. "She seems more focused and very comfortable with who she is and what she wants to accomplish. She is very dedicated to the team and what she wants to accomplish individually. She has a really strong personality and she is a good leader."
It was hard for Anderson to imagine, as a child, that one day she would be one of the best swimmers in the nation, especially after the way things started off for her, but she has instituted a formula that works for her.
"I never thought that I would be in the place where I am now or have been throughout my career," Alyssa said. "I think the way it works out for me is by taking baby steps. I enjoy seeing improvement, keeping busy and working hard. That has always inspired me and something that I strived for."
Those baby steps have gotten bigger throughout the years as she and her sister have become two of the top swimmers in the nation. The two rarely compete against each other, but when they do, you can be sure that the race is always fun to see.
"I was a little scared in my first Pac-10 race last year as a freshman," Haley said. "It was in the relay and against Alyssa, both of us were the third leg in the relay. I was really nervous for that one because that was the first big race for my team and it was against her. Alyssa swam really well."
Alyssa will compete against her sister a few more times this year as both will compete in the Pac-10 Championships from February 23-26, and they will team up again at the World University Games.