Melissa Petersen dislocated her left knee twice in the last four years while competing in sports-related activities. Last fall, the Cony senior dislocated the left knee during cross country season.
“Three times is a charm, I guess,” Petersen said. “I have two bad knees but that’s OK. I’m still going.”
The injuries slowed Petersen down on land but, as she proved this winter, not in the water.
Petersen enjoyed two standout performances in her signature events — the 50-yard freestyle and 100 free — at the Class A championship meet. She shined at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A meet as well.
For her accomplishments this winter, Petersen is the Kennebec Journal Girls Swimmer of the Year. Cony teammate Kayley McNeff was also considered.
“Melissa had an absolutely fabulous year,” Cony coach Jon Millett said. “She set (personal records) in her two events and she was the kind of kid who was willing to do anything for the team. She was an inspiration to other members of the team. She just had a really, really strong season.”
Petersen capped her season with strong showings at the end-of-season meets. She finished third in the 100 free at the KVAC A meet with a time of 59.96 seconds. Petersen was fourth in the 50 free (27.44).
“The KVACs went well, but it wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped,” she said. “I was hoping to go faster.”
She did at the state championship meet.
Petersen finished sixth in the 100 free with a time of 57.62, more than two seconds faster than her KVAC A time. She finished eighth in the 50 free in 26.01.
It was the latter event that set the tone for her day.
“The 50 is my first event,” Petersen said. “At the KVACs, I kind of psyched myself out. What I really needed to do was just relax and focus on what I needed to do. I was more excited and ready for states. All what I was working up to was my first event. That would make or break you. After the 50, I’m usually pretty calm. To get (personal records) in both, it was unbelievable.”
Millett said the performances capped a year of steady improvement.
“Her stroke mechanics were great,” he said. “She made tremendous gains. She’s a very strong girl. It’s amazing because she started a little late this year because of her knee.”
Petersen injured her right knee at Popham Beach while training for the cross country season.
“I dislocated my knee and was out for most of the season,” she said. “I just pushed and recovered. I worked really hard to come back. It took awhile before I could do any of the flip turns, and there’s still a stroke I can’t do because it stresses the knees. But that’s OK, because it’s the breaststroke and that is not one of my favorites. It all worked out.”
Petersen is hoping to attend and swim for Rochester University in Rochester, N.Y.
Bill Stewart — 621-5640