While Mr. Anderson does not leave for California until September, he is working hard this summer to prepare for his college career.
In high school, Mr. Anderson was a three-time state champion in the 100-meter breaststroke, and he swam in the state meet during his freshman year as well. He says he plans on improving on the sprint-freestyle races this summer before going to college.
“A lot of it is just technique work,” he said, focusing on the 50-meter race. “It’s really, really hard on your legs and knees sometimes to go into the wall with that much speed and come off of it with just as much, if not more speed.”
Mr. Anderson says his hard work in high school and with his swim club, the Arizona Marlins — now merged with the Phoenix Swim Club — has prepared him to swim at the next level.
Erica McClurg was Mr. Anderson’s high-school swimming coach. She watched him lead the team as a co-captain.
“He was an excellent team leader and really led the team by example,” Coach McClurg said. “He also started a new tradition where all the guys on the team would wear red bow ties on the days of home meets. He cared a lot about the team and everyone could see that so it really made our team close.”
Emma Schlenker was a co-captain with Anderson in high school and has known him since pre-school, where they sang in a church choir together. She says he was a positive presence on the swim team.
“Matt’s hilarious to swim with,” she said. “He’s easy to get along with and always tries to do what’s best for the team. As a teammate, he is very supportive and welcoming to all of the new teammates.”
After battling back from a shoulder injury, Ms. Schlenker will be competing at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa next year.
The right combination
Mr. Anderson chose Stanford over the University of Arizona and the University of Wisconsin. He says he wanted a good team and a good fit for him, and Stanford was the right choice.
“Stanford ended up being the best combination of athletics and personality,” he said. “Those were kind of my two big criteria. I wanted a team that I felt could take me places and develop me into the best swimmer that I can be, and also a place where I really fit in and felt at home.”
Mr. Anderson says at the moment he is undecided on a major, but he is leaning toward human biology or chemistry with his sights set on medical school.
While he has not raced in a collegiate event yet, Mr. Anderson has raced in the next-best thing. At last year’s Junior Nationals meet, he finished second in the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 2:16.71, according to swimswam.com, a swimming news and lifestyle website.
Mr. Anderson says his experience at Junior Nationals gave him his first taste of what college competition will be like.
“That meet was awesome,” he said. “My club team has always been kind of small, so we’ve never really been able to put up a team to go out to some of those bigger meets.
This past year we went together and it was tremendously exciting. I still can’t really believe that I did as well as I ended up doing, but I’m certainly blessed and thankful for that.”
Determination and talent
Ms. Schlenker says Mr. Anderson’s swimming success can be attributed to his determination and talent.
“Matt Anderson is definitely talented,” She pointed out. “He’s also very focused on whether he’s doing everything right. He is detail-oriented and is a perfectionist. He won’t stop practicing until he is doing everything right.”
Ms. Schlenker says she expects Mr. Anderson to do big things at Stanford.
“I think he is going to do great,” She proclaimed. “Stanford will be a great fit for him, with the rigorous academics and competitive swim team. It’s going to be great to watch him grow so I can say ‘I knew him in high school.’”
Ms. McClurg also says she thinks the combination of rigorous academics and training will lead Mr. Anderson to even more success at Stanford.
She also says he applied for Academic All-American status and she expects he will earn the honor, as he was in the top 5 percent of his class at Arcadia.
Swimswam.com says if Mr. Anderson continues to progress in his events, he could qualify for the NCAA meet as a freshman. Mr. Anderson says qualifying is his goal.
“I knew that freshman year, I wanted to be at the NCAA meet,” he said. “The goal I set for myself was a freshman-year score in the top 16 at NCAAs in at least one event and the 200 breaststroke.”
Mr. Anderson says he would like to be in the top eight by his sophomore year if he is not in the top 16 his freshman year. He is aware of the pressure he has placed on himself, but he is also willing to work toward his goal.
“The NCAA Championships is said to be one of the fastest meets in the entire world,” he explained.
“It’s definitely going to be a big step and it’s not going to come easy at all. College training is going to be a whole different atmosphere and something that’s going to take quite a bit of time to get used to. I’m just going to try to keep my head as well on top of my shoulders as I can and stay focused and I think that it should work out well. It’s definitely a lofty goal and it’s going to take a lot more work than I’ve ever put in thus far.”