World class talents from across North America are descending on to the UBC Aquatic Center for the annual Mel Zajac Jr. International swim meet.
The annual race — which has played host to the likes of United States Olympic champion Ryan Lochte among other big names in the sport — has been a staple for the Canadian summer swimming calendar since 1997.
Taking place mere weeks before major international events like the Universiade and the Fédération internationale de natation (FINA) World Aquatic Championships, Mel Zajac acts as the perfect warm up race and makes for some great competition between Canadian and international swimmers.
This year 800 swimmers mostly from across Canada and the United States will take part in the 24-event competition across three days beginning Friday, May 24 to Sunday May 25.
The major players to watch at this year's edition, apart from members of the UBC Thunderbirds, include both the Canadian and American Junior National teams. Added with the ‘Birds, these three groups make up top of the entry lists for the majority of events this weekend.
A race to keep an eye on will be the 200 metre freestyle, which is bound to be a showdown between the ‘Birds and 2016 Olympian Markus Thormeyer and American junior phenom Luca Urlando. Thormeyer is entered in with a time of 1:47.60, an all time best for the veteran which he set just under a month ago at the Canadian Swimming Trials. Meanwhile Urlando is not far behind being entered in at 1:47.73. The 16-year-old is already committed to the class of 2024 at the University of Georgia.
The two are entered in with the first and second spots for the 200 metre freestyle but they will also face off in the 50 metre butterfly, where they are both entered within the top 10 behind Canadian Cole Pratt of Calgary’s Cascade Swim Club.
Another ‘Bird poised to make a splash this weeked is Emily Overholt. An Olympic Bronze Medalist at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 games, Overholt is in full comeback mode and entered in first place for the Women’s 200 metre freestyle at 1:57.26 - a full second ahead of Canadian Mackenzie Paddington of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
With packed heats and fast talent in the pool, it’ll be a busy weekend for the ‘Birds and Canadian swimmers at the UBC Aquatic Center.