Leif Anderson grew up as a swimmer, a member of Marysville’s Mighty Marlins Swim Club. But when he got to Marysville Pilchuck High School, he decided he wanted to try diving as well.
“(To swim and dive) is more unique. Usually a person does one or the other, but not both,” Tomahawks boys swimming coach Meredith Jenks said. “The few who do both decently have the ability to do both, and Leif definitely does.”
Anderson, a senior, is one of Marysville Pilchuck’s top sprinters and breaststrokers, but diving has become his main event. He finished 12th at the Class 3A state meet last year.
“He has natural talent,” Tomahawks diving coach Shauna Kopischka said. “He’s an adventurous kid, and he likes to push the limits. He’s doing tougher dives pretty easily, and he’s doing them without fear.”
The Herald recently spoke with Andersen about his swimming and diving background, other interests and future plans:
What do you like best about swimming and diving?
A lot of it is my teammates. They’re awesome people, and I love hanging out with them. For me, it’s not really about winning, it’s just about hanging out with friends — even people on other teams. I’m not really a competitive person. I just like to go out and have fun.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
During my sophomore year, I hit the board (during a dive). My entire junior year I was terrified of diving. I thought every time I got on the board something bad would happen. Last January, before our first dive qualifier, I was terrified. I showed up and told my coach, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ After that we had a lot of talks, and she helped me to realize that everything would be OK. I learned that it’s never good to run away from your fears.
Are you involved in any other school activities?
I take classes through Running Start at Everett Community College, where I’m the vice president of the physics club. We meet up to talk about astronomy- and physics-based things, and people can come to us with homework questions. We do demonstrations on things like vacuum chambers, or we blow something up and explain the physics behind it. We also have ‘star parties,’ where we go somewhere with our telescopes and look at the night sky. It’s a lot of fun.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I’m going to go to Western Washington University to get my bachelor’s degree, then transfer to the University of Washington for graduate school. I’m going to try to study astrophysics. Eventually I could work for a university doing research, or work for a space engineering company like Boeing or NASA or SpaceX.
How did you become interested in astronomy and physics?
Even as far back as elementary school, I was drawn toward my science classes. I like the joy of discovering things and what science has done for the advancement of technology. I’d love to be a part of that. It would be amazing to discover something that helps advance our lives.
What else do you do in your free time?
I’m an outdoors person. I love to ski, and I’ve gone mountain climbing maybe four times over the past couple of summers, mostly at local (spots) like the North Cascades. It’s a lot of fun to do — it’s hard work, but it pays off at the end. When you get to the top of the mountain, it feels really good.
How would you describe your personality?
I’d say I’m easygoing. I just go with the flow, hang out. If I need to get something done I’ll get it done. I don’t really get stressed about too many things.