Canadian Olympic hero Penny Oleksiak will race at UBC this week

May 29 2018, 3:49 am

Some of the top swimmers on the planet are on their way to Vancouver, as UBC hosts the 55th Annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet beginning on Friday.

Over 600 swimmers will compete at the UBC Aquatic Centre during the three-day event, including a Canadian Olympic hero.

Topping the list is Penny Oleksiak, who captured the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast at the Rio 2016 Olympics, becoming the first athlete from our country to win four medals at a single Summer Games. The achievement was made even more impressive given her birth certificate – she was just 16 years old.

Canada’s youngest-ever Olympic champion will turn 18 this month, as she looks to improve upon an injury-riddled 2017 campaign. She dealt with a shoulder injury, before suffering a concussion after being hit by a medicine ball at the gym.

Other top athletes attending include American swimmers Ryan Lochte and Caeleb Dressel. Lochte has won 12 Olympic medals in his career, and currently owns or shares four world records.

Just 21 years old, Dressel has been compared to Michael Phelps – he’s that good.

“This guy is going to dominate in the same way as Phelps, but is also the fastest man on the planet so it’s also a bit like Usain Bolt,” said former world champion Mark Foster in an interview with CNN. “He’s going to bring a bit of sexiness to the sport.”

Dressel already has two Olympic gold medals to his name – won with American relay teams in Rio.

Another swimmer to keep an eye on is Scotland’s Mark Szaranek, who won silver and bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Australia earlier this year.

“This year the prestige level of the meet has gone way up with the quality of the international athletes attending,” said UBC Swimming head coach Steve Price. “It will be one of the premiere meets this spring as athletes prepare for the Pan Pacific Championships, the European Championships, and the Asian Games. The meet will be fast and we hope to see many meet records broken.”

Notable UBC athletes competing include 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Markus Thormeyer and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, Olympic bronze medallist Emily Overholt, World Championships relay bronze medallist Yuri Kisil, and Canadian national team member Josiah Binnema.

Tickets for the event start at just $5 per day, and are available online.

55th Annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet

Where: UBC Aquatic Centre
When: Friday, June 1 to Sunday, June 3
Time: 9 am to 5:30 pm each day
Tickets: $5 for single day, $10 for the entire event, available online

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