Swimmer Haley Anderson glad Olympics are postponed for athlete safety

Haley Anderson competes in the 5-kilometer open water swim at the world championships in Barcelona, Spain in 2013.
(Al Bello / Getty Images)

Instead of counting down the days to the Tokyo Olympics, Haley Anderson is at home in Santa Monica completing puzzles, catching up on Netflix shows and adjusting to a modified training schedule.

This isn’t what the USC graduate expected.

Last July, Anderson and fellow open water swimmer Ashley Twichell became the first U.S. athletes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after Anderson finished second and Twichell came in eighth in the 10K at the FINA World Championships in South Korea.

Those Olympic plans were paused Tuesday with the postponement of the Games until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


“With everything escalating so quickly, I had hoped it would be postponed,” said Anderson, who won a silver medal in the 10K at the London Games in 2012. “But there’s so much that goes into the Olympics and sometimes the athletes can be forgotten, even though they say it’s all about the athletes. Athlete safety and things like that aren’t always at the forefront of people’s minds. It’s nice this is actually a done deal now.”

Former UCLA gymnast Danusia Francis is looking forward to “another year to get stronger, another year to get more confidence” amid the Olympics postponement.

March 24, 2020

Anderson and several other swimmers were preparing at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., last week when they were sent home after the facility abruptly closed because of the pandemic.

“It was the main topic of conversation,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t until we got sent home that it was real. ... There’s a lot going on in the world all the time, but sports is never really affected. I’ve never had to worry about any of my competitions. It’s weird having to reframe my perspective now.”

In the meantime, Anderson is moving forward. She found an open pool the other day — no easy feat with so many closures — and got in a normal workout. Otherwise, she’s swimming in the ocean, exercising at home and wrestling with the same questions as everyone else.

“I don’t know how long this will last,” Anderson said.