INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana will be well-represented in Rio next month. We have several amazing athletes who will compete in the Olympic games, but one of those athletes isn’t a member of the U.S. National Team. Alexus Laird, a graduate from the IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis, has dual citizenship and will go for the gold for the Republic of Seychelles.
For Laird, the road to Rio began here at the IU Natatorium. She’s looking to make a splash at the Olympic Games in the 100-meter backstroke. But this Kokomo High School graduate and former standout swimmer for IUPUI won’t be representing the Red, White and Blue. Laird will be swimming for the Seychelles, a country literally on the other side of the world.
“I know both of the anthems pretty well,” Laird said with a laugh, “so it’s interesting! I’m really excited to showcase my swimming career in Rio with this opportunity with the Seychelles.”
The Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off of Africa. They are stunning–screensaver stunning.
“Solely, they make their money off of tourism,” Laird explained. “It’s a really great honeymoon spot. Kate and William, the prince and princess, went on their honeymoon there.”
Laird is a dual-citizen of the Seychelles and the United States. The 22-year-old is able to compete on their national team because of her family heritage.
“My father is from the United States and my mother was from the Seychelles, so you know, it’s kind of having a little piece of both of them. She met my father in Germany, while she was going to school there, like an exchange student. He was in the Air Force and I was born on an Air Force base in California. My mom’s whole side of the family–they’ve never been to the United States. I go to the Seychelles about once a year,” Laird said.
She’ll be one of just six athletes from the Seychelles in Rio. And for Laird, representing her mom’s country is especially emotional.
“My mother passed away when I was really young, so it’s a really great way to honor her. She was a very kind woman and it’s really great to be honoring her in this way,” Laird said.
Laird has already honored her heritage with gold medals and record-setting swims.
“In IUPUI and in the Seychelles, I have quite a few records. It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “When I won golds at the Indian Ocean National Island Games, they were really happy. They called me the ‘Golden Girl.'”
But the Olympic Games? That’s realizing a dream.
Laird trains in Carmel now. No doubt, this Hoosier will have fans cheering her on in Rio from all sides of the world.
“I’ve trained for a really long time and I never thought I’m be swimming past college,” Laird said, “and this is really just a great opportunity to end my swimming career.”
Laird also has goals out of the pool. She worked very hard for her degree at IU Kelley. She’s getting her CPA and is looking forward to starting a career as an accountant when the Olympics are over.