FANWOOD, NJ — Ana Bogdanovski, a former resident of Fanwood, will carry the flag of her country, Macedonia, at this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio. She is a dual citizen of the United States and Macedonia, a country in Southern Europe, where both her parents were born.
Bogdanovski will carry the flag on Aug. 5 and participate in the swimming competition on Aug. 8.
“I have been honored with the privilege to carry the Macedonian flag because I have been deemed the most worthy by the Olympic Committee,” Bogdanovski told LocalSource. “They believe that, out of all the athletes competing for Macedonia, I have the highest athletic merit.”
Bogdanovski was the 2015 National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Woman of the Year Top 30 nominee and holds the top-ten fastest times in John Hopkins University’s history for the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle. She’s captured 10 NCAA titles and earned All-American honors 23 times during her college career.
“I started swimming competitively at the end of high school, so I’ve been competing about six years now,” Bogdanovski said to LocalSource. “I swam when I was younger, but I didn’t take it seriously and quit when I was about 12. I started getting more serious when I swam for Scotch Plains/Fanwood High School. I had a slow start and did not get my varsity letter until sophomore year. I started improving a lot during my junior year, after recovering from a broken wrist I suffered during a horseback riding injury. After that, I swam with the Scotch Plains/Fanwood YMCA until college.”
During The Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremony in Rio, Greece always enters first, followed by the other nations in alphabetical order. Macedonia will be the eighth country to march. Bogdanvoski will proudly swim and represent Macedonia during the competition.
“I am extremely honored to carry our flag and hope to make my country proud,” Bogdanovski told LocalSource. “Macedonia is a very geographically diverse country. There are snowy mountains, vast rivers, beautiful lakes and lush forests. It is truly beautiful. The Macedonian flag is a yellow sun on a red background. It represents the new sun of liberty, as referred to in our national anthem.”
Bogdanovski is preparing herself for the swimming competition ahead of her. She wants to be as relaxed and poised as possible in preparation for the big day. She is trying her best to clear her mind so she won’t be distracted during the competition.
“I want to be relaxed and have fun,” she said to LocalSource. “I swim the best when I am not thinking too much. Ideally, I want to enjoy myself and stay loose. That way, I maximize my chances to get a best time and break my country’s national record.”
Bogdanovski received the opportunity to participate on the Macedonian team thanks to her uncle, from whom she received a swim cap with the country’s flag on it. He signed her up for the team. The times she achieved in the United States qualified her for the Macedonian Olympic team. At the young age of 23, Bogdanovski has achieved more than many athletes have in a lifetime. She plans to study medicine in the future.
“After the Olympics, I am headed straight to the medical school at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark,” she revealed to LocalSource. “I am actually getting there a week late. One day, I hope to practice sports medicine and help athletes like myself overcome injuries to reach their true potential. My dream is to work as the physician for the United States National Swim Team.”