The 55th annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet was held at the UBC Aquatic Centre this past weekend. Over the years, the meet has garnered some of the world’s top swimmers and this year is no exception. This year, the meet boasted international swimmers including twelve-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte, Olympic and World champion Caleb Dressel, junior world recorder holder Maxime Rooney, and the USA Junior National team.
Domestic swimmers include four-time Olympic medallist Penny Oleksiak, Pan American games medallist Rachel Nicol, and the Canadian Junior team. Top BC swimmers include Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, two time Bronze World Championship medallist Yuri Kisil, and Olympian Markus Thormeyer.
Markus Thormeyer (UBCSC/HPC-VAN) was the lone BC swimmer to set a meet record this weekend. He slid under the Men’s 200m BK record held by Australian Olympian Mitch Larkin in a time of 1:58.14 - less than a second away from the Canadian record and 0.3 seconds off of his personal best he set just two months ago at the Commonwealth Games.
Highlights from the weekend include the Men’s 100m BR, Women’s 400m IM, Men’s 100m FL, Women’s 400m FR, Women’s 200m FL, and Men’s 100m FR. The Men’s 100m BR was a highlight for the BC men, with four BC swimmers making the final and two landing on the podium. Jaren LeFranc (KISU/HPC-VAN) touched first in a 1:03.65, less than a second ahead of third place finisher Ruishen Yu (SKSC) who hit the wall in 1:04.53. Ben Blackmon (CHENA) charged to sixth place in a 1:05.90. Canadian Junior team member James Lebuke (CANADA JR/CSSSC) rounded out the BC field in a 1:06.71, which was good for ninth place.
The Women’s 400m IM A-final was composed of 50% BC swimmers. Mackenzie Padington (CRKW) led the way to a silver medal finish in a 4:45.68. Bailey Herbert (CANADA JR/LOSC), Emily Overholt (UBCSC/HPC-VAN), and Megan Dalke (KCS/HPC-VAN) touched fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively. After a strong front half from Overholt, Herbert’s strong 1:23.15 breaststroke split helped her pull away from her BC compatriots. Rounding out the field was Chantel Jeffrey (CANADA JR/ISC) with a tenth place finish.
The Men’s 100m FL was a particularly internationally star-studded event, with the likes of Caleb Dressel, Ryan Lochte, and Maxime Rooney racing for the podium. Josiah Binnema (UBCSC/HPC-VAN) was the top BC swimmer in the event. Binnema touched in a 53.97, which was good enough for fifth place right behind Lochte. Thormeyer was not far behind, and he touched in a 54.63 in seventh place. Nicolaas Dekker rounded out the BC men with an eighth place finish in a 55.11.
The Women’s 400m FR saw six of the ten swimmers representing or coming from BC teams. Padington surged to a victory in a 4:10.63, followed by Molly Gowans (ISC), who touched in a 4:16.46 for second place. After battling it out for the entire race, her fellow ISC compatriots Kyla Ross (ISC) and Jeffrey touched fifth and sixth in times of 4:21.26 and 4:21.70, respectively. Overholt followed in a seventh place finish with a time of 4:22.40, and her training mate Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson (GO/HPC-VAN) touched in a 4:24.66 for ninth place.
The Women’s 200 FL boasted 17 BC finalists out of the 30 positions. In the A-final, Herbert hit the wall in 2:14.93 for a second place finish behind Penny Oleksiak. Her LOSC teammate Josie Field (LOSC) touched in a 2:16.96 for fifth place, followed closely by sixth and seventh place finishers Megan Dalke (KCS/HPC-VAN) who touched in 2:17.55 and Overholt who touched in a 2:17.99. Rounding out the field of BC swimmers was Jeffrey in a 2:21.46.
The Men’s 100m FR was blisteringly fast, with the top three finishers all ducking under the 50 second barrier. Thormeyer upset the reigning world champion Dressel to touch in a 49.54 for first place. Yuri Kisil (UBCSC/HPC-VAN) was only 0.15 seconds behind Thormeyer for a time of 49.69, which was good for third place. Their UBCSC/HPC-VAN compatriot Carson Olafson (UBCSC/HPC-VAN) claimed seventh place in a 51.30.
The meet organizers extend their thanks to all athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, and sponsors for making the event happen. Best of luck to all swimmers at your remaining events this summer!