'Birds impress at Mel Zajac meet in lead up to summer international schedule

The newly constructed UBC Aquatic Centre played host to its first swim meet over the weekend of May 27: the annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet.

Even with the USports season finished, many Thunderbirds came out to break in the new facility and use the stacked field of competition to warm up for upcoming summer international meets including the FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Aquatics Championships in Budapest from July 14 to July 30.

Markus Thormeyer had a particularly strong meet at the Mel Zajac event, claiming first place in the 200-metre freestyle with a strong time of 1:50.18. He also beat out University of Denver and Croatian national team member Anton Loncar for first in the 200-metre backstroke, clocking in at 2:00.65, just about two-tenths of a second of his best time in a 50-metre pool.

He kept his groove going in the backstroke events, recording 55.15 in the 100-metre backstroke which is about half a second off his best time but more than good enough for first place. Teammate Yuri “the missile” Kisil also had a good meet, putting up a time of 22.69 in the 50-metre freestyle and 49.35 in the 100-metre freestyle.

Though they may not be best times for the pair, the Mel Zajac Canada Cup is only a warm up meet for the duo and the rest of the ̓Birds travelling to Budapest. The athletes will post much faster times after tapering down before the World Championships.

Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, also headed to Budapest, was faced with the biggest challenge of any ’Bird on the final day of competition Sunday evening. The fourth-year arts student faced nearly back-to-back swims in both the 200-metre butterfly and 100-metre freestyle finals.

Seltenreich-Hodgson struggled at first as she finished last in the butterfly event and posting a time of 2:20.23. However, she stormed back to win the 100-metre freestyle with a stellar time of 56.06.

Overall, it was a successful competition that showcased all levels of current Thunderbirds’ talent, from rookies to seasoned veterans prepping for the summer’s international calendar.

The Mel Zajac event will be the last major competition at the new UBC Aquatic Centre until next year’s USports season, when it’s safe to assume the new state-of-the-art facility will be used to great extent.

An earlier version of this article mistakenly said that the Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet is a part of the Canada Cup, and has been updated. The Ubyssey regrets this error.