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Mel Zajac

Full name: Melvin Nicholas Zajac
Gender: Male
Born: April 23, 1956 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died: July 13, 1986 in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Affiliations: Pacific Dolphins, Vancouver (CAN)
Country: CAN Canada
Sport: Swimming


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 year’s 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 year’s 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 Columbia’s 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 “for seniors and special needs children” in British Columbia. The Mel Zajac Jr. International swim meet has been held in the Olympian’s honour since 2000.


Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1976 Summer 20 Montréal Swimming Men's 100 metres Breaststroke Canada CAN 6 h1 r1/3

Men's 100 metres Breaststroke

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank T 5dT 5dR 50-100m
1976 Summer 20 Montréal Swimming Canada Round One Heat One 6 1:08.52 31.46 4 37.06 (6)
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