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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Alyssa Anderson’s Olympic dream come true

Mike+Christy+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AAlyssa+Anderson%0A%0ASwim+meet+between+the+Arizona+Wildcats%2C+UNLV+Running+Rebels%2C+and+the+Wisconsin+Badgers+on+Friday+at+Hillenbrand+Aquatic+Center.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Alyssa Anderson Swim meet between the Arizona Wildcats, UNLV Running Rebels, and the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

Alyssa Anderson, like many young athletes, has always dreamed of someday being an Olympian. At the Summer Olympics in London, Anderson’s dream came true in a big way, as her contributions to the U.S. 4×200-meter freestyle relay team earned her a gold medal in her first Olympics.

In 2006, when Anderson made the National Junior Team, the dreams she had as a young swimmer seemed like a legitimate possibility.

“As I slowly got better I started competing internationally,” Anderson said. “I began seeing what I needed to do. I lived everyday for that dream. I made sure I was putting in more and more work in the pool. I made sure I was conscious of what I was eating and that it was healthy. I also understood that everything happens for a reason so let it happen.”

Eric Hansen, Arizona’s head swimming coach, believes that Anderson’s progression in her most recent season the UA was a big factor in her successful Olympic run.

“Alyssa made great strides this year leading up to the Olympics,” Hansen said. “She was very focused on making the Olympic team. She was very diligent with her work ethic. I can’t say enough about how much work she put in, I’m very proud of her. “

Sharing the pool with talents like Natalie Coughlin, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin is something that not many athletes can claim to have done. That Coughlin, a 12-time Olympic medalist, took Anderson under her wing just made the experience in London all the more educational.

“Natalie (Coughlin) was and is a role model to me,” said Anderson about the 12-time Olympic medalist. “She is someone who has had a lot of experience and success in the Olympics. Natalie was a great person to be able to talk to and help me in the Olympics, being with her really took the pressure off.”

Anderson didn’t swim in the final 4×200-meter relay, but she did swim in the preliminary heats. Because of that, her contributions to the win went under the radar. Pictures of her were not laced across news publications or websites following the victory. For Anderson though, the experience she had in London humbled her to the point that notoriety, or a lack thereof, was never an issue.

“My role on the team was sort of behind the scenes,” Anderson said. “I got this gold medal because I was on a great team. They are the reason I have it. Just to say I was part of the team is enough for me.”

Anderson swimming for the U.S. Olympic swim team ended up being a family reunion of sorts for her. Former longtime UA head swimming coach Frank Busch became the U.S. swimming national team director this past year. And this summer Anderson’s younger sister Haley, a junior at USC, swam and won the silver medal in the 10-kilometer open water Olympic marathon event.

“The Olympics were like a home coming,” said Anderson. “It just seemed to all come full circle. It was really amazing to have them all there and support me, and we got to go watch and support Haley. I was just extremely happy; the whole experience was peaceful and much less stressful because of it all coming together as it did.”

Even though her experience in the Olympics might propel her into popularity, Anderson is just trying to take it all in and move forward.

“I’m still just trying to digest all of it, but in the end nothing has changed for me and who I am,” said Anderson. “I’m just Alyssa, and I am so proud to be part of this team and to have done this for my country.”

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