The UBC Thunderbirds are set to host over 600 swimmers including a number of world class athletes at the 55th Annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet from June 1-3. Fans in Metro Vancouver will have the rare opportunity to see some of swimming’s biggest names as well as emerging stars from across Canada, the United States and around the world as they compete at the impressive two-year old UBC Aquatic Centre.
Feature athletes attending include Canada’s youngest ever Olympic champion, Penny Oleskiak, who became the first Canadian to win four medals in a single Summer Games after claiming a gold, a silver and two bronze at the 2016 Rio games. Also descending upon the new Aquatic Centre will be American swimmers Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Lochte. Dressel, a rising star, comes in as a two-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder who also dominated at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships where he won seven gold medals. Lochte, meanwhile, needs little introduction with 12 Olympic medals and four world records on his resume. Joining the above trio in Vancouver is standout Scottish swimmer Mark Szaranek who claimed silver and bronze medals at the recent 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Several celebrated international UBC swimmers will be on display enjoying the friendly waters of their home pool including 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medalists Markus Thormeyer and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson. Other T-Birds taking part include Olympic bronze medalist Emily Overholt, World Championships relay bronze medalist Yuri Kisil and Canadian National team member Josiah Binnema.
“The UBC Thunderbirds along with our partners are so pleased to be hosting the 55th annual Mel Zajac Jr. International,” said UBC Swimming Head Coach Steve Price. “This year the prestige level of the meet has gone way up with the quality of the international athletes attending. It will be one of the premiere meets this spring as athletes prepare for the Pan Pacific Championships, the European Championships and the Asian Games. The meet will be fast and we hope to see many meet records broken.”
The Zajac Foundation has generously supported the meet since 1997, allowing the event to attract top international talent year after year. The meet is named after Mel Zajac Jr. who was a swimmer on the Canadian National Team and competed for Canada at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Prior to becoming a sponsor in 1997, the Zajac Foundation supported a swim camp and clinic for young swimmers from around BC in the Interior.
The Mel Zajac Jr. International will also be a great platform for Canada’s next generation of swimmers to hone their skills and gain valuable experience on the big stage. 16 young swimmers are in Vancouver taking part in a week-long National Development Team Program training camp that culminates with each of the eight men and eight women taking part in the meet from June 1-3.
The first preliminary races in the 55th Annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet go Friday, June 1st beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the UBC Aquatic Centre.