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The Sport Information Resource Centre

Swimming Canada – VANCOUVER _ They were given a challenge and members of the Canadian junior swim passed the test at the 55th annual Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet.

Baily Herbert made her third podium appearance of the meet in Sunday’s final day of competition, placing second in the 200-metre butterfly in a personal best time of two minutes, 14.93 seconds. Olympic silver medallist Penny Oleksiak of the Toronto Swim Club won the race in 2:09.96 while Toronto’s Victoria Kwan, 17, another junior team member, was third in 2:16.23.

Herbert was one of 16 junior team members from across the country who participated in a gruelling six-day National Development Team Program training camp prior to the meet.

“Just getting to train with all the other great swimmers and getting to race them and getting the feedback from the coaches, it helped my stroke a lot,” said the 15-year-old from Langley, B.C. “They helped me work on a lot of little things that helped me improve a lot.”

Just racing in the lane next to Oleksiak, who won four medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was dream come true for Herbert.

“It’s amazing,” she said, “I never, ever thought I’d get to swim beside her, never mind stand on the podium beside her. That was really amazing.”

Oleksiak would later win the 100-m freestyle in 54.50 seconds.

In the final events of the meet, both the junior men and women’s teams would reach the podium in the 4×100-m medley relay. The women’s squad of Alicia Arcand, Nina Kucheran, Kwan and Kyla Leibel were second in 4:12.02. The men’s team of Charles Millette, Finlay Knox, Joshua Liendo and Noah Cumby were third in 3:52.67.

Leibel, a 16-year-old from Red Deer, Alta., was on the podium five times, twice individually and on three relay teams.

Ken McKinnon, Swimming Canada’s national development coach, liked what he saw from the junior swimmers during the three-day meet held at the University of British Columbia Aquatic Centre.

“We definitely had some good results,” said McKinnon. “Overall we are really happy. There is always more to be done.

“We did challenge them. We had six straight days of training.  When you get the kids into one group they challenge each other. They didn’t get too bruised up training. They managed to stand up here.”

Many of the swimmers attending the training camp will go on to compete at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, Aug. 23-27 in Suva, Fiji, and the Youth Olympic Games Oct. 6-18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“It gives them a key measure in an important part f the season,” said McKinnon. “We have about nine or 10 weeks to go, lots of time to make adjustment and complete the training program.”

Before the swimmers return home they will be given a summary and technical details of what was targeted during the camp. Home coaches will be provided with a record of the training program and other pertinent information.

This year’s Zajac meet attracted 615 swimmers. Full results can be found at

In one of the night’s most exciting races Markus Thormeyer of the High Performance Centre _ Vancouver, outdueled world champion Caeleb Dressel to win the men’s 100-m freestyle. Thormeyer touched the wall in 49.54 seconds, just .04 ahead of Dressel, of Green Cove Springs, Fla. Yuri Kisil, who also swims at the High Performance Centre _ Vancouver, was third in 49.69.

“That swim was a bit of a surprise for me,” said Thormeyer, of Delta, B.C., “I didn’t touch the wall expecting to win.

“That’s a huge confidence booster. Moving forward, maybe in the summer I can apply what I learned from here and make even bigger steps.”

Later in the evening Thormeyer swam a meet record time of 54.49 in the B final of the 100-m backstroke. That broke the mark of 54.62 set by Australian Hayden Stoeckel in 2012.

American Ryan Lochte, a 12-time Olympic Games medallist, won the A final in 54.75 seconds.

In other results:

_ Dressel won the men’s 50-m breaststroke in a meet record 27.89 seconds. That bettered the old mark of 27.92 set last year by former Canadian national team member Richard Funk.

_ Mackenzie Padington of the High Performance Centre _ Victoria, won the women’s 800-m in 8:37.61 and was third in the 100-m freestyle in 55.81.

_ Isabelle Stadden of the U.S. junior team won the 100-m backstroke in a meet record 1:00.10, breaking the old mark of 1:00.80 set by American Natalie Coughlin in 2011.