Full name: Melvin Nicholas Zajac
Born: April 23, 1956 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died: July 13, 1986 in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Affiliations: Pacific Dolphins, Vancouver (CAN)
Mel Zajac garnered national attention for his swimming abilities in the mid-1970s and first qualified to represent Canada at the World Championships in 1973. He won the 200 metre breaststroke event at that yearâs Canada Games, but did not advance beyond the heats at the Worlds. He was second in the 100 metre breaststroke at the 1975 Canadian National Championships, behind [Graham Smith], and was selected to represent Canada at that yearâs Pan-American Games, where he finished seventh in the 200 m breaststroke. His next major tournament was the 1976 Summer Olympics, where he was eliminated in the opening round, after which his international career dwindled quickly, although he later took part in Ironman competitions.
Zajac studied at the University of Florida and Arizona State University. He died in July 1986 when out kayaking with his friends in British Columbiaâs Chilliwack River. His kayak became caught in a tide pool and overturned, submerging Zajac for several minutes until he drowned. His brother Marty died eight months later, in a skiing accident, which led his parents to found the Mel Jr. and Marty Zajac Foundation, which raises funds âfor seniors and special needs childrenâ in British Columbia. The Mel Zajac Jr. International swim meet has been held in the Olympianâs honour since 2000.
|1976 Summer||20||MontrÃ©al||Swimming||Men's 100 metres Breaststroke||Canada||CAN||6 h1 r1/3|
|1976 Summer||20||MontrÃ©al||Swimming||Canada||Round One||Heat One||6||1:08.52||31.46||4||37.06 (6)|