VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds are set to host over 800 swimmers from 80 different teams across North America including a number of world class athletes at the 56th Annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet from May 24-26. Fans in Metro Vancouver will have the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in Canadian swimming as well as emerging stars from across Canada and the United States as they compete at the state of the art UBC Aquatic Centre.
Feature athletes attending include the UBC Thunderbirds very own rising international stars and 2019 U SPORTS national swimming champions Marcus Thormeyer, Alex Pratt and Emily Overholt who are all looking to enjoy the friendly waters of their home pool. Overholt, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, is coming off a standout season that culminated in her earning four gold medals while also setting four meet records en route to helping the T-Birds women’s swimming program capture a seventh U SPORTS national title in the last eight years this past February at the UBC Aquatic Centre.
Thormeyer followed up his 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medal win with a dominant season that saw him earn the U SPORTS male swimmer of the year. Thormeyer had a sublime showing, earning seven gold medals (four individual and three relay) while also setting six meet records in leading the Thunderbirds men’s team to a fourth national title in the last five years. Fellow T-Bird Alex Pratt was named Canada West and U SPORTS male rookie of the year finishing with two individual medals and three U SPORTS records with UBC relay teams.
Also on display this weekend, determined to make a splash, is the next wave of emerging national team talent for their respective countries that have their sights set on competing in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. They include Cole Pratt (HPC –VAN), Luca Urlando (Dart Swimming USA), Finlay Knox (Okotoks Mavericks Swimming), Faith Knelson (Island Swimming) and Emma O’Croinin (Edmonton Keyanos Swim Club) among others.
“UBC Thunderbirds and our partners are proud to be hosting the 56th Annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet at the UBC Aquatic Centre,” said UBC assistant swimming coach Derrick Schoof, who last fall was named head coach for the upcoming 2019 FISU Summer Games in Naples, Italy.
“With some high quality American teams visiting us and many of the best swimmers in Canada attending, it will be a very fast meet and the depth of field will be at its all-time highest. We are excited again to be hosting both US and Canadian Junior National Teams as well as many provincial teams from across Canada. This will be the first test for our 15 UBC Thunderbird Swimmers who will be representing Canada this summer at the World Championships, Pan Am Games, and FISU Games.”
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 first preliminary races at the 56th Annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet go Friday, May 24th beginning at 9:00 a.m. while the finals start each night at 5:30 p.m. at the UBC Aquatic Centre.