Sports

Fanwood Resident Ana Bogdanovski's Unlikely Swim Course Has Led Her to the Olympics in Rio

6752b3d347a358b68c90_Ana_3441.JPG
Fanwood resident Ana Bogdanovski will swim in the Olympics in Rio. Credits: John Mooney
72d8163ab0260d173dee_a89cbffff2590b038507_DSC_3426.JPG
Aislinn Mooney, Ana Bogdanovski, Chris Karelus, ‎Competitive Aquatics Director at Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA, Morgan Tsin, and Taylor Tsin Credits: John Mooney
25ff45592f17f91c82ab_Ana_-_Phelps.JPG
Ana Bogdanovski and Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps Credits: John Mooney
14b1b86cea417189717c_Ana_-_Ledecky.JPG
Ana Bogdanovski with Olympic swimmers Katie Ledecky and Jessica Long (U.S.), Lotte Friis (Denmark), and Mohamed Hussein (Egypt ) Credits: John Mooney
0bc1da632efc68ab1b74_Ana_-_brother.JPG
Ana and her brother, Dorian Credits: John Mooney
591983d83ed5e2a0571a_DSC_3437.JPG
Fanwood resident Ana Bogdanovski visited Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA (FSPY), where she swam in her early career, before heading to Rio to swim in the Olympics. Credits: John Mooney
cad456293ae793e6f183_Ana_-_bicep.JPG
Ana Bogdanova flexes her muscles. Credits: John Mooney
f4497628de03ba850cef_Ana_3447.JPG
FSPY swimmers Morgan Tsin (left) and Aislinn Mooney (right) take a picture with FSPY alumna and Olympic swimmer Ana Bogdanovski. Credits: John Mooney
545e295c40d4877f3603_Ana_sneakers.JPG
Ana Bogdanovski's sneakers are decorated with Olympic Rings and the Macedonian flag. Credits: John Mooney
6752b3d347a358b68c90_Ana_3441.JPG

FANWOOD/SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Ana Bogdanovski is perhaps the most unlikely participant at the Summer Olympics in Brazil, where the Fanwood resident will carry the flag for her nation: Macedonia, a country located in the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe.

Bogdanovski's parents both are natives of the country, and she has dual U.S.-Macedonian citizenship. Now a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, the swimmer was  a 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 nominee and holds the top ten fastest times in the school's history for the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle.

In the Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremony in Rio, Greece will enter first, as always. The other nations will enter in alphabetical order in the language of the host country (Brazilian Portuguese). Thus, Macedonia -- officially known as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (Antiga República Iugoslava da Macedônia) -- will be the 8th country to march. Bogdanovski will carry the flag on August 5 and then compete on August 8, just one week past her 23rd birthday. 

Sign Up for E-News

Bogdanovski, who grew up on MacLennan Place and still calls Fanwood her home, captured 10 NCAA titles and earned All-America honors 23 times during her college career.

Her spot on the Macedonian team came to be after she asked an uncle to get her a swim cap with the country's flag on it. It turned out that the times the swimmer had placed in competitions here in the U.S. were fast enough to qualify for the Macedonian Olympic team. She will swim in the 200 freestyle for her ancestral home land on August 8th in Rio.

"My uncle signed me up to be on the team. It was happenstance," said Bogdanovski, who is the Macedonian national record holder in 50, 100, 200 freestyle, and 50, 100 backstroke. "I always dreamed of swimming in the Olympics for Macedonia, but didn't know how to go about it. I spent a few months training there."

What makes her journey to the Olympics even more unusual is that she gave up the sport while she was a sophomore in high school.

"I was really bad, and I wasn't having any fun," the self-depreciating Bogdanovski said. "At 4 ft. 11 inches, I was the smallest swimmer on the team. My best time was 1:12 in the 100 freestyle. (Because I left) I was only swimmer to not get a varsity letter on the swim team."

Nor was she a child prodigy.

"I didn't even pass the deep water test at Highland Pool the first time I tried. The Westfield Y told my parents not to waste their money on me. I came to FSPY and had a hard time making Bronze times."

"She had a rough time," said her former swim coach Chris Karelus, ‎Competitive Aquatics Director at Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA.

Her career might have come to an end at age 15 were it not for her friend Jill Leahy.

"I went to the Magnet School, and Jill went to Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. We missed hanging out together, and I realized our only opportunity to be together came during swim practice," recounted Bodganovski, who loved growing up in a quiet street and riding her bike to downtown Fanwood to get ice cream or bagels.

Bogdanovski explained that in high school she would get so nervous that she would throw up before her races and sometimes hid in the bathroom faking stomach pains or shoulder injuries to get out of swimming.

"I thought it was too hard. I didn't want to do it," Bogdanovski said.

"Ana had a rough freshman year," recalled SPFHS swim coach Jess Hulnik. "She really blossomed in her junior and senior seasons."

At Johns Hopkins University, Bogdanovski  was a NCAA "Today’s Top Ten Winner," was featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" section, and was a Division III Collegiate Women’s Sports Award and Woman of the Year Top 30 nominee in 2015. She also won her school's Catherine P. Cramer Award, given to the senior female who has made the most outstanding contribution in athletics at Johns Hopkins.

In 2014, as a junior, she was honored as the NCAA Division III Woman Swimmer of the Year. From 2013-15, she was a Ten-Time overall NCAA Division III Swimming National Champion (five-time individual). During her college career, she was a 23-time All-American Award recipient.

Bogdanovski won a post-graduate scholarship and, after taking a year deferment to train for the Olympics and will attend New Jersey Medical School (formerly UMDNJ) in Newark upon her return from Rio. During the past year, she has trained in Baltimore and at U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where she swam with the sport's biggest stars, including Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin and Michael Phelps.

Bogdanovski says she eats like a normal human being and drinks shakes made with protein powders and beet juice concentrate. 

Her advice to the young FSPY swimmers who came to meet her at a homecoming of sorts on Sunday was: "All the training you do will prepare your body. You have to control your mind. It's okay to be nervous; if you are not nervous, you don't care."

"Never stop dreaming. Swimming has taken me to places I never thought I'd be."

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Elizabeth

Happenings this Week in the City of Elizabeth

June 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - Do you what is happening this week in Elizabeth? Here is a list by Mayor Bollwage’s office of events happening around the City.

Tuesday, June 19 - Completion Ceremony 

(11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., 40 West Jersey Street, Elizabeth) - The completion ceremony of the NJ Youth Corps of Elizabeth at the Union County College Kellogg Building. 

Wednesday, June 20 - ...

Make Music Roselle Park Lineup Includes Rock Bands, Singer-songwriters, Free Harmonica Lesson

ROSELLE PARK, NJ - The lineup for the first-ever Make Music Roselle Park will include two rock bands, a pair of singer-songwriters, a free beginner harmonica lesson and more.

The event being held on June 21, Make Music Roselle Park is part of Make Music Day, a global music celebration that takes place on the summer solstice each year and brings people of all ages and skill ...

Freeholder Board Announces Launch of Free Farmers’ Market Vouchers for Seniors

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced that the annual Farmers’ Market voucher program for seniors will begin again this summer. Starting on June 25, income-eligible adults age 60 and up can receive a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce at designated Farmers’ Markets throughout Union County.

The total of $25 is provided in $5 ...

Charges Pending Against Roselle Man Found with More than 40 Dogs Living in Squalor

June 20, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - A Roselle man will be charged with multiple criminal offenses after more than 40 dogs were discovered living in severely unsanitary and inhumane living conditions in his home last week, according to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

According to the authorities, members of those two agencies, the ...

Gov. Murphy still pushing a millionaire's tax, won’t say when he'll sign sports betting, weed bills

June 11, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - With a showdown on the state budget looming just 22 days away, Gov. Phil Murphy today re-emphasized his call for a tax on the state’s wealthiest households while hoping to avoid another shutdown of state government.

“Do I still want a millionaire’s tax? The answer is ‘yes,’ “ Murphy said at a press conference at the John ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...

Friends of the Library Book Sale Continues

June 21, 2018

The Friends of the Union Public Library are continuing their book sale through until Monday, July 16th, 2018 at the Main Library and Vauxhall Branch.  The sale features items for both adults and kids and includes DVDs and CDs as well as books. Patrons can buy a Friends bag for $10 at the Reference Desk and fill it, or they can purchase items individually.  The Friends of the Union ...