Wahpeton native Eric Anderson has been making waves in the Red River Valley for his accomplishments in the pool. Anderson, a Shanley High School graduate, will be headed to Omaha, Nebraska, for a chance to qualify for the 2021 Summer Olympics.
Anderson started swimming at age 7. He played multiple sports growing up, including baseball, basketball and trap shooting, before narrowed his focus onto swimming once he started high school. Starting with swim lessons, Anderson then joined a swim team and kept setting new standards for himself.
“I just kept going and kept setting new goals and kept setting new things to achieve,” he said.
Anderson spent his first two years of high school at Wahpeton. He won the state championship for his 50-meter freestyle and won back-to-back state championships in the 100-meter freestyle. He transferred to Shanley High School before his junior year and swam with Fargo Shanley-South. He ended his high school career with seven state championships.
“Mostly what went into transferring was having the opportunity to swim,” he said. “If I would have had the opportunity to do it here, I would’ve stayed. Shanley has been nice. They’ve been pretty accommodating.”
Anderson realized his potential in eighth grade as he quit basketball and devoted more time to swimming. Once this happened, his career took off.
Anderson was able to see how he matched up with some of the best in his region at the U.S. Toyota Open, held in November 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.
“We were blindsided with the lockdown and we didn’t get much pool time up here because everything was shut down,” Anderson said.
Despite the hurdles he and other swimmers faced, Anderson finished with a time of 23.6 in the 50-meter freestyle, which placed him 14th overall and was five-tenths of a second off from making the Wave I Olympic Trial cut. This eventually set him up for the TYR Spring Cup.
“Then at the TYR Cup, we just got everything lined up. We made things as perfect as they could be, and everything lined up,” he said.
Anderson dropped his time by 0.36 seconds, to 23.03, which qualified him for Wave I of the U.S. Olympic Trials. Training continues to be a priority.
“We’ve already been doing a lot of sprint stuff and we’ll just shorten the amount of yards we are doing on those days,” Anderson said.
Anderson spends an average of eight hours per week training. Over the past few months and in recent weeks, as he’s dedicated to his sport, things have changed a bit.
“We’ve just tried to make everything as fast-paced as possible,” Anderson said.
Anderson was prepared to leave Wednesday, June 2 for Omaha, Nebraska. The city is hosting the U.S. Olympic Trials. Anderson will prepare in the U.S. qualifying pool up until his swim day, Monday, June 7.
The 2021 Summer Olympics are scheduled for July 23-Aug. 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. While Anderson waits for his lifelong dream to possibly become an Olympian, he knows he’ll be swimming for South Dakota State University this fall.