Melanie Wright – OAM Olympian Medical Student

Melanie Renee Wright OAM (formerly Melanie Schlanger, 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 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 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.

In 2013, Melanie swam at the world championship trials with a fractured rib. Despite swimming with severe pain, she managed to qualify for the world championship team in two relay events. Unfortunately a slow recovery meant that Melanie had to withdraw from the Worlds and focus on returning to peak fitness for an uninterrupted preparation for the Commonwealth Games.

At the Glasgow games in 2014, Melanie won gold as part of the world record-breaking 4×100 freestyle relay. A record she and her teammates broke from the “super-suit” era of the sport. In a highly competitive event, Melanie also finished 5th in the 50 freestyle in a time that would have collected bronze and the 2013 world championships. Following the games, Melanie competed at a home Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast where she collected a gold and silver in the 100 and 200 freestyle relays. She also finished 4th in the 200 freestyle.