By Warren Rappleyea
Melanie Fosko heads into the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Swim Championships Jan. 27 focused on retaining her title in the 100-yard freestyle event.
The North Brunswick Township High School senior has been unable to maintain her usual training regime as she recovers from mononucleosis. The lingering effects of the illness have kept her from competing at full strength, yet Fosko managed to compete in all of the Raiders’ regular-season meets, and she is now prepariing for the GMC event, which will be held at the Raritan Bay Area YMCA in Perth Amboy.
In addition to winning the 100 freestyle last year, Fosko came in second in the individual medley (IM) and was a member of North Brunswick’s second-place medley relay team. In 2015, she crossed the line first to win the 200 freestyle. Fosko also earned a pair of medals at the 2014 GMC Championships. She qualified for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions in both 2015 and 2016.
This time around, Fosko will compete in the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke — shorter more sprint-like events — that won’t tax her stamina as much as distance races.
“My times aren’t where I’d like them to be, but I’m gradually getting there,” Fosko said. “I’m very excited about competing in the GMCs. This is going to be completely different for me, but I think I’ll do well in the shorter events. I’m going to give it my best to earn points for my team.”
Fosko has been a force for North Brunswick since her freshman year. Her name is dotted all across the Raiders’ record book. She is the team record holder in both the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. She also holds the second fastest time in the 200 IM and the 200 freestyle events. In dual meets over her four-year high school career, Fosko has won 63 of the individual events she competed in. Her older sister, Megan, also competed for the Raiders.
She began swimming at the age of 7 with the North Brunswick Rapids recreation program and quickly moved on to the Raritan Valley YMCA team. Fosko credited her coaches at Raritan Valley — where she spent seven years — for focusing on all of the different swim strokes to help their swimmers better develop their skills. As a result, she still holds seven individual team records. In 2014, Fosko joined the Princeton-based XCel club team, where she still competes.
“The 200 freestyle is my favorite event,” she said. “It’s kind of a sprint and distance race all in one. I also like the 100 breaststroke. It’s a sprint, but not a typical one because you have to focus on your technique.”
“Melanie is so versatile, I’ve been able to use her in different events depending on the opposition,” North Brunswick coach CarrieAnn Ragavas said. “She’s great about it. She goes wherever we need her and never complains. It’s been great to have her on the team.”
Fittingly, Fosko cites a team achievement as the highlight of her interscholastic career.
“During my sophomore year, we beat Bishop Ahr and they had been undefeated for several years,” she said. “It came down to the final relay. Everyone was so engaged. It was such a team effort.”
Fosko excels in the classroom as well as the pool. She has made honor roll throughout high school and currently serves as president of North Brunswick’s National Honor Society.
This combination has drawn the interest of several colleges, and Fosko is hoping to make a decision at some point this spring.