Anderson sisters pave way for future stars

By: Matt Long
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Jeff Pearson has coached the Sierra Marlins for 14 years, and he’s as proud as he’s ever been. Just last week two swimmers who came through the Marlins program, Alyssa and Haley Anderson of Granite Bay, competed in the FINA World Championships in Rome, Italy, as members of Team USA. Haley placed ninth in the 1,500-meter freestyle swim with a time of 16 minutes, 20.62 seconds, a personal-best by 10 seconds. Yes, that’s ninth-best in the entire world. Not bad for a 17-year-old, who just graduated from Granite Bay High this spring and is headed to the University of Southern California for her freshmen year in a few weeks. Haley also competed in the 800-meter freestyle and placed 28th overall in 8:45.91. Alyssa, 19, swims for the University of Arizona. She competed in the preliminaries on the 4x200-meter freestyle relay team along with Ariana Kukors, Dagney Knutson and Lacey Nymeyer, which posted the second-fastest qualifying time of 7:49.51 and advanced to the finals. Alyssa swam a personal-best 1:58.35 split but was replaced, along with Knutson, by Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt in the finals. Team USA placed second overall, trailing only the Chinese swimmers, who won the race in a world record time of 7:42.08. Team USA finished only .48 second behind in 7:42.56. Alyssa said the experience of competing at the world championships was top-notch. "I had a great time in Rome and swimming at the World Championships was the best experience I've been a part of," Alyssa said. "To represent the United States at such a high level was such an honor." Pearson was thrilled by the girls' performance. “We’re obviously proud of the girls,” Pearson said. “It says a lot about who they are as athletes as well as people. It was fun for the team to see them be successful. “They’re our pioneers to the next level. Since the team started in 1983 and since I’ve been the coach from 1995, we’ve always had pioneers who lead the way and show the kids to the next level.” Pearson said that he expects more great things from the girls in the future. “I’m sure they had a great time, but they weren’t satisfied,” Pearson said. “They’re going to come back and work hard to get back there in 2012.”