SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADDOR, November 28 — Old Father Time still hasn't caught up with Ricky Busquets and Juan Veloz is the "real deal," results from the penultimate evening of swimming competition at the Central American and Caribean Games show.
Busquets, a 28-year-old native of Puerto Rico who still holds his alma mater's (University of Tennessee) sprint records in the 50-100 yard frees; and Veloz, a University of Arizona junior who represents Mexico internationally, each won his second individual gold of the competion here this evening — and each set and/or tied a Games' record too.
Busquests tied his own 50 free standard of 22.55 from Maracaibo four years ago en route to an easy win. Runner-up was Columbian Juan Becerra (23.04) and third was former Arizona State star Francisco (Pancho) Sanchez in 23.23. Busquets had earlier won the 100 free (50.25).
Busquets' time boosts him into 16th on the yearly 50 free ranking list. His pr/NR and Central-American record is 22.42 from the Pan-Pac Championships in Fukuoka five years ago.
Veloz, who has been an NCAA finalist in the 200 fly for Coach Frank Busch's Wildcats, splashed to a pr/NR 1:58.45 to defeat Puerto Rico's Andrew Livingston-Connors. The latter clocked 2:01.37 for the silver.
Veloz's swim ranks him 11th globally this season — best ever — and broke Livingston's Games record of 2:00.54 from 1998.
Livingston is the Central American record-holder with his 1:57.94 from the semifinals of last year's World Championships. The overall Latin American standard is 1:57.51 by former University of Florida NCAA champ Rafael Vidal, who represented Venezuela in the mid-'80s. Vidal's time won him the bronze medal at the Los Angeles Olympics 18 years ago.
Veloz, who also stroked to a win the in the 400 IM, holds the 'Cat school-record in the 200 yard fly (1:43.93) and is fourth-fastest among returnees from last season's NCAAs. His win will undoubtedly be a great confidence-builder heading into the collegiate season.
Current Purdue Boilermaker Juan Rodella, who also represents Mexico, swam to his initial international gold with a 58.00-58.38 win over teammate Diego Urreta in the 100 back. Barbados' Alfred Neckles (pr/NR 58.39) took the bronze.
Mexico has dominated the competition, with former USC standout Josh Ilika accounting for two more golds in the 200 free and the 100 fly. His time for the latter (53.86) was also a Games' record.
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In women's events, Mexico's Tania Galinda won her second medal and first gold, clocking 9:05.11 to win the 800 free. She earlier had taken a silver in the 400 free.
The other women's gold went to countrywoman Adriana Marmolejo, who clocked 2:23.79 to win the 200 IM. To make it a family affair, Marmolejo's brother Pablo took bronze in the 200 fly.
The Games' record in both events belongs to former Arizona State Sun Devil Carolyn Adel, who went 8:52.97/2:19.31 while representing Suriname at the '98 Games.
Competition concludes this evening (Friday, Nov. 29) with finals in the women's 50 free and 200 back-fly and the men's 200 IM-mile.
– Bill Bell