Haley Anderson Writes First-Person Essay of Struggles With Olympic Postponement

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Haley Anderson at the 2019 US Nationals. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

Haley Anderson was all set to represent the United States in her third Olympic Games this summer in the 10K open water swim. Anderson had already qualified to swim the 10K in Tokyo by virtue of her silver medal in the event at the 2019 World Championships, which served as the first round of qualification for the 10K. She, Ashley Twichell and Jordan Wilimovsky were the first three Olympians for the Tokyo swim team.

Anderson wrote a first-person essay for TeamUSA.org about how she reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a plan in place to be at her absolute best on race day – August 5, 2020, Anderson was gearing up for her third trip to the Games when they were postponed an extra year.

“I had been counting down to August 5, 2020 for almost four years. I planned out every single year—2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and the beginning of 2020—to be at my best on August 5,” Haley Anderson wrote.

“When I finished my last race at the Olympics Games Rio 2016, deep down I already knew I would keep going and keep competing. At that moment, my Tokyo dream started.”

Even though she had already solidified a spot on the team, she still had struggles coping with the events unfolding. Her anxieties only heightened when she found out that her coach Catherine Kase would be leaving her post at USC.

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Haley Anderson. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

“When our “shelter in place” order went into effect, I was at home alone in my Los Angeles apartment. When you are sitting at home with no physical connection for weeks, it gets to you.

“I have always been independent and capable of being on my own, but I was on an emotional roller coaster, trying to figure out my next step without even knowing what was possible. The fear of the unknown really got to me. I had nothing concrete. No plan. No light at the end of the tunnel.

“There has been structure in my life since I started sports, and since the start of lockdown that structure has been completely thrown out. I shut down and decided that I wouldn’t think about the decisions I would eventually have to make. I would give myself some time to decompress, really listen to my body and mind and take care of myself.

“I wouldn’t be able to train or compete for the foreseeable future, so no point in worrying about something I couldn’t act on yet. Of course, this was much easier said than done. I would have random moments that hit out of nowhere and the panic of not having a plan was overwhelming at times.”

But Haley Anderson was fortunate to have a close friend take her in to her family home for most of quarantine so she wouldn’t be alone, being able to talk through her thoughts and fears about the future.

“I was stressed and worried, like a lot of people during lockdown, but my family and friends were so patient with me and so understanding. Even though I had qualified for the Olympics already, it didn’t feel any less stressful. Did I even have a right to be stressed? I should feel lucky that I had even qualified.”

Haley Anderson’s essay can be read in full here.

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