Melanie Wright (nee Schlanger)

Melanie Renee Wright (nee Schlanger) OAM (born 31 August 1986) is an Australian freestyle swimmer training at the Southport Olympic Swimming Club on the Gold Coast in Queensland under head coach Glenn Baker.

Making her first Australian team in 2006, Melanie won three bronze medals at the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships in Canada in the 100m freestyle, the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle. She was a member of the Australian 4×100m freestyle relay team that won gold at the 2007 World Championships. Later that year, Melanie was a member of the Australian World Record breaking 4x100m short course freestyle relay.

At the 2008 Australian Swimming Championships she qualified for her first Olympic games as a member of the 4×100m and 4×200m freestyle relay teams by coming third and fifth in the respective individual events. Melanie swam the third leg in both the heats and the final of the 4×100m freestyle relay in Beijing, as Australia claimed the bronze in the final. She also swam in the heats of the 4x200m freestyle relay and collected a gold when the finals quartet won the final in a world record time.

However, Melanie’s incredible successes were at a price, when the following year she developed a glandular fever-like illness called ‘Cytomegalovirus’. It was unrelenting and exhausting, forcing Melanie out of the 2009 Australian Trials and, eventually, out of the pool entirely. Melanie’s announcement of early retirement was an incredible disappointment for the Australian swimming world, and one of the most difficult decisions of Melanie’s life.

Melanie soon realised she still held a flame for the sport, after a stint of social swimming with a friend. With her health regained, ten months into her retirement, Melanie made another life-changing decision to return to the pool. A fresh start at the Southport Olympic Swimming Club with world-renowned coach Glenn Baker reignited her passion for the sport, and the results showed. By the end of the 2011 swimming season, Melanie had returned to an internationally competitive standard, finishing in the top ten fastest freestyle swimmers in the world.

With so many swimmers making their largely acclaimed come-backs, Melanie quietly maintained her focus and her remarkable resolve paid off at the London 2012 Olympic Games. As part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team, Melanie won Australia’s first Gold medal of the Games. She then went on to win two Silver medals in the 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay, as well as placing fourth in the individual 100m Freestyle.

The tough times returned in 2013 with Melanie having to withdraw from the World Championships Team due to a broken rib. But her resolve showed through once again and with her back against the wall she qualified for her first Commonwealth games in the 50m freestyle and the 4×100 freestyle relay to prove you can’t keep a strong woman down.

Melanie has proved over and over that she can overcome the hardest obstacles and is a true inspiration for all young female athletes coming through.
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