U.S. Juniors Shine At 2022 Mel Zajac Jr. International

2022 Mel Zajac Jr. International

  • June 3-5, 2022
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • UBC Aquatic Centre
  • LCM (50m)
  • Meet Central
  • Results

The 57th edition of the Mel Zajac Jr. International meet took place over the weekend from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, with the annual competition returning after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

The meet featured a ton of age group talent, led by squads representing the U.S. and Canadian junior national teams.


A total of five female swimmers picked up multiple individual wins over the three-day meet, led by U.S. junior Erika Pelaez and Bellevue Club Swim Team’s Piper Enge with three victories apiece. Enge wasn’t representing the U.S. Junior National Team because she was selected to swim at Junior Pan Pacs and therefore wasn’t on the U.S. roster for Mel Zajac.

The 15-year-old Pelaez won the women’s 50 free (25.78), 50 back (28.37) and 50 fly (26.98), setting a new personal best in the latter. Pelaez, who swims for Eagle Aquatics in Miami, held a previous best of 27.72 in the 50 fly. In the 50 back, she broke the meet record in the prelims in 28.34, with both that and her finals time just shy of her PB set at the U.S. International Team Trials in April (28.31).

Enge, also 15, swept the women’s 50, 100 and 200 breast, clocking respective times of 32.17, 1:08.84 and 2:29.12.

Her swim in the 200 breast marked a new lifetime best, knocking more than three seconds off the 2:32.20 she set at the Westmont Pro Swim earlier this year. Enge now ranks 18th all-time in the girls’ 15-16 age group and 11th among 15-year-olds.

Also winning multiple events on the women’s side was U.S. juniors Lilla Bognar and Maddie Waggoner, along with Canadian Emma O’Croinin.

Bognar won the women’s 200 back (2:11.38) and 400 IM (4:50.03), both on the opening night of competition, with her 400 IM marking a new lifetime best by over four seconds (previously 4:54.40). Her 200 back swim earned her the top overall performance of the meet on the women’s side, with her PB sitting at 2:10.62 from August 2021. (Bognar did not race at the U.S. Trials in April.)

Waggoner, 17, won the women’s 800 free (8:46.46) and 1500 free (16:37.63), both just over two seconds shy of her bests set at U.S. Trials.

O’Croinin topped the women’s 200 free (2:00.21) and 400 free (4:15.43), both right on par with where she was at the Canadian Trials in early April (2:00.37/4:15.14).


U.S. juniors Matthew Chai and Baylor Nelson led the way with three wins apiece on the men’s side, as did Canadian university champion Apollo Hess.

Chai, an 18-year-old out of the FAST Swim Team in California, did the distance triple with wins in the men’s 400 free (3:54.78), 800 free (8:05.12) and 1500 free (15:24.52), all just shy of his bests set at U.S. Trials. Just over a month earlier, the Cal commit swam respective PBs of 3:53.75, 8:03.44 and 15:16.42.

Nelson, a product of SwimMAC Carolina, was victorious in the men’s 200 back (2:02.23), 200 IM (2:02.30) and 400 IM (4:22.65), finishing around two seconds off his bests in the 200s and five in the 400 IM.

Hess swept the men’s breaststrokes, powering to times of 28.30, 1:02.61 and 2:18.63 in the 50, 100 and 200. Competing for the University of Lethbridge, the 19-year-old won both the 50 and 200 breast at the U SPORTS Championships earlier this year, and owns long course bests of 27.76, 1:01.94 and 2:14.92 in the 50, 100 and 200.

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7 months ago

This meet has dropped in quality of swimming so much the last few years

Reply to  CanSwim13
7 months ago

No one ever expected there were going to be big names 2 weeks out from Worlds on another continent…

Reply to  NUSwimFan
7 months ago

Only 2 swimmers going to a Sn international meet this summer were there can’t imagine they were in any shape to swim fast though.

7 months ago

Is Lucy Bell (2nd 1BR) making the move to breast stroke from her FL/FR/IM background given the depth in those statements events at the Farm and the absence of sprint BR? She has made big drops in her 1BR both SC and now LC this past year.

7 months ago

*Bellevue Club Swim Team

Reply to  NWCoach
7 months ago

Thanks for the correction

7 months ago

Does anyone know why Erika did not participate in the finals of the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle?

Reply to  Anon
7 months ago

One of my swimmers was here roommate and told me that Erika tested positive for Covid 19 after prelims and had to isolate the rest of the trip.

Reply to  Coachjan
7 months ago

Probably not the best idea to discuss medical condition of minors in the swimswam comments section.

Juan Pelaez
Reply to  NWCoach
7 months ago

Thank you for your comentary Coachjan.

Heard it here first folks
7 months ago

Piper is going to be the next GREAT one no cap, Jr Pan Pacs aren’t ready for the times she gonna throw down

Old Bruin
7 months ago

LET’S GO PIPER ENGE!! So cool she can be there representing Bellevue alongside the US juniors and then gets to go to Pan Pacs. A two-fer!

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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