This year’s Mel Zajac Jr. International swim meet saw over 800 swimmers from both Canada and the United States race across all age categories, leaving no shortage of excitement this past weekend at the UBC Aquatic Centre.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the weekend was 17-year-old American phenom Luca Urlando — from DART Swimming in Davis, California — shattering the meet record for the 200m butterfly by three seconds. His time of 1:54.35 was good enough for the third fastest overall time in the world this year and easily broke the 11-year-old meet record set back in 2008 by Adam Sioui.
UBC fielded its high-performance team eponymously, with several current athletes and alumni swimming under a number of different clubs. Results for the 2019 U Sports champions were mixed — but according Swimming Canada’s Olympic Program senior coach Martyn Wilby, many athletes treated the meet as a training session for the World Championships, which is taking place between July 12 and 18.
Notable swims for Thunderbirds included the 200 metre freestyle, where Emily Overholt swam a more-than-respectable time of 2:00.46 to earn a silver medal in the event. On the men’s side, Markus Thormeyer took second behind Urlando with a time of 1:49.66 while Alexander Pratt came in fourth with a time of 1:51.32.
Thormeyer’s best swim of the weekend came in the 100 metre backstroke where he earned first place and set a new meet record with a time of 54.42.
Moving forward, it will be a busy couple months ahead for national team swimmers. Canada is sending three separate national squads to the International Swimming Federation World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru and the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy.
“It’s a good stepping stone for the rest of the summer ... now we’re going to move into the next phase of the summer and see what we can do at the World Championships, Pan Am Games and FISU Games,” said UBC assistant coach Derrick Schoof, who will be part of the coaching staff for Canada at the Universiade in Naples.