Maggie MacNeil, Josh Liendo Headline 2023 Mel Zajac Jr. International

2023 Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet

Two of Canada’s biggest stars will be in action this weekend at the annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet in Vancouver, as Olympic gold medalist Maggie MacNeil and world champion Josh Liendo have entered the competition.

MacNeil, fresh off of racing on the Mare Nostrum Tour in Europe, comes in as the top seed in the women’s 50 free, 50 back, 50 fly and 100 fly, all events she could end up racing at the World Championships.

The 23-year-old currently ranks second in the world this season in the 100 fly (56.54), and set a personal best time of 24.79 in the 50 free at the Canadian Swimming Trials earlier this year which ranks 21st.

Liendo has entered the men’s 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 50 fly and 100 fly, with the 20-year-old set to take on all but the 200 free at Worlds this summer.

Both swimmers will be using the competition as a tune-up of sorts for Worlds, which will get underway seven weeks after Mel Zajac in Fukuoka, Japan.

Five other members of Canada’s 2023 World Championship team will be in action, as Jeremy BagshawJames DergousoffCollyn Gagne and Hugh McNeill are slated to compete on the men’s side, while Emma O’Croinin is in the lineup for the women.

Dergousoff, McNeill and O’Croinin will be racing in their home pool, all currently training out of the HPC Vancouver base at UBC. Other notable UBC-trained swimmers set to compete include Danielle Hanus, Eloise Allen, Blake TierneyJustice MigneaultRaben Dommann and Keir Ogilvie.

The University of Calgary Swim Club will be well represented, with age group standouts as Maxine Clark and Aiden Norman on the entry list along with veteran Stephen Calkins.

Other key names to watch for include 2021 short course world champion Tessa Cieplucha, Canadian age group star Laon Kim and American breaststroker Piper Enge.

Cieplucha, who represents Markham Aquatic Club but has primarily been training out of her alma mater, the University of Tennessee, is the top seed in the women’s 800 free, 200 breast, 200 IM and 400 IM.

Kim has been on an absolute tear over the last 12 months, smashing numerous Canadian Age Group Records for 13-14 boys, including downing one held by Olympic champion Alex Baumann just over a week ago.

Kim, 15, has now aged up, and he’ll begin his pursuit of a new set of NAG records, though the Canadian marks span 15-17 (rather than 15-16). He’s entered in seven events, including holding top-eight seeds in the 50 free (fourth), 200 free (fourth), 200 IM (sixth) and 100 free (seventh).

The U.S. has sent a roster of junior swimmers to this competition in the past, but that won’t be the case this year due to U.S. Nationals taking place in late June (the 2022 Mel Zajac team was selected at World Trials, which were held in late April).

However, Enge, who competes for Bellevue Swim Club in Washington State, will be in attendance (Bellevue sent a team to the meet last year as well). One of the top breaststrokers in the girls’ 15-16 age group in the U.S., Enge comes in as the defending champion in all three female breaststroke events.

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Bo Swims
3 months ago

So they are capping the 800&1500 at 30 swimmers per event … the meet pack has LCM/SCM & SCY QT – we invite our American neighbors and due to seeding rules all yards entries are not going to be allowed to race.

We are talking one extra heat of M800 and W1500 on Friday .

2 extra heats of M1500 (47 entries) and 1 extra W800 on Sunday.

Not good hosts.

Reply to  Bo Swims
3 months ago

Self-inflicted problem for the Americans.

Bo Swims
Reply to  Troyy
3 months ago

We’re also screening out all our own kids who entered SCM

William B
3 months ago

Please tell me this is the last year before Bagshaw retires

Reply to  William B
3 months ago

why do folks feel the need to encourage others to retire… whats the payoff?

if the dude wants to swim, let him swim ffs

Reply to  William B
3 months ago

My hats off to him for being in med school and finding enough time to train to stay in decent shape to for top international competition.

"we've got a boiler!"
Reply to  wetcoastmom
3 months ago

I totally echo John and William B, we should have ‘more’ Jeremy Bagshaws in the sport, ie older swimmers that are maybe past their prime but still competitive, adding leadership and support to their club teams and national teams. Far too often a Canadian Nat psych sheet top 8 has maybe 1-2 20-somethings and then all teenagers. Nothing against the fast teens, but shows a massive lack of uni and adult ‘pro’ competitors as the opportunity for them certainly wains financially at that stage. The ISL helped tremendously for some in its breif 1st 3-yr go around, hopefully something of the like can restart next year or post Olympics.

If we had the same attitude for hockey or other pro… Read more »

3 months ago

Unfortunately, Piper Enge has to compete with Kate Douglass, Lydia Jacoby, Lilly King, and dark horse Kaitlyn Dobler in the breaststroke events.

Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
3 months ago

Any chance she wants to be a Canadian? we are desperate for a breaststroker

Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
3 months ago

Well if she drops enough time to be competitive for an international medal she will have a shot at making the US team

Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
3 months ago

She needs to become Canadian somehow.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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