2023 Central American & Caribbean Games Meet Preview

2023 Central American & the Caribbean (CAC) Games Preview

  • Complejo Deportivo de Ciudad Merliot – San Salvador, El Salvador
  • Saturday, June 24 -Thursday, June 29 (pool swimming)
  • Prelims 9 AM / Finals 6 PM (local time/US Central Time) 
  • Official Website
  • Entry List
  • Live Results

Athletes from all over Central America, the Caribbean, and a couple of Caribbean-adjacent invitees from South America will come together to compete against the best of the region starting tomorrow. 

Mexico is the top contender with 38 top three seeds in 42 events. During the last CAC Games edition in Barranquilla, Colombia back in 2018, Mexico topped the swimming medal count with 46 medals (16 gold, 19 silver and 11 bronze), followed by Colombia with 16 (seven gold, five silver and four bronze). The meet was supposed to take place in Panama in 2022, but the country declined from being host during the 2020 pandemic, and it got postponed one year.

Races to watch

Men’s 50 & 100 freestyle

Former USC Trojan Dylan Carter from Trinidad & Tobago is the top seed in both sprint freestyle events. Both his times of 21.91 in the 50 and 48.28 in the 100 are under the Olympic qualifying cuts of 21.96 and 48.34, respectively. Seeded 2nd in both events is University of Missouri alum Mikel Schreuders from Aruba. Although he is seeded with a 22.37 in the 50, he recently dropped to a 22.04 during French Elite Championships last week, adding himself an Olympic “B” time. Mexico’s Jorge Iga ranks 3rd in the 100 freestyle with a 48.87. Yet, back in April he went a PB of 48.79 at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Westmont. 

Men’s 200 freestyle 

Iga is seeded 1st in the event with a 1:47.49. Nonetheless, the former Arizona Wildcat has broken the 1:47.00 barrier already as he posted a 1:46.43 during a time trial in Westmont, just .17 from the Olympic qualification time of 1:46.26. Seeded 2nd is Schreuders with a 1:49.39, followed by Aggie Swim pro member Hector Ruvalcaba Cruz from Mexico with a 1:50.02.

Men’s 50, 100 & 200 breaststroke

The 50 is topped by Schreuders with a 27.52, already under the championship record of 27.56 of Panama’s Edgar Crespo from 2018. He is followed by soon-to-be Paris Olympian Miguel De Lara from Mexico with a 27.55, also under the meet record. De Lara qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 200 breaststroke during Mexico’s trials meet in Monterrey back in April. He ranks 1st in both 100 and 200 with a 1:00.14 and 2:09.60, respectively. Closely after is Texas A&M school record holder Andres Puente from Mexico seeded 2nd in the 100 with 1:00.87, after the sudden meet scratch from Colombia’s top breaststroker Jorge Murillo who was originally the second seed. In the 200, Puente is seeded 2nd with a 2:14.25 followed now by Panama’s Tyler Christianson with a 2:15.76.

Women’s 50, 100 & 200 butterfly 

Over a second difference separates the top three seeds in the 50 butterfly. Cuba’s Lorena Gonzalez Mendoza is the only one under 26 with a 25.80. University of Arkansas Razorback Tayde Andrea Sansores ranks 2nd at 26.74 and Colombia’s Sirena Rowe 3rd with a 26.91.

Mexico is 1-2 in the 100 butterfly seed with Athena Menses at 59.58 and Maria Jose Mata Cocco with 59.81. Meneses’ best time is now 59.44, which she swam at the TYR Pro Series in Mission Viejo this past May. Mata Cocco’s seed time is slightly off her best time of 59.58 from last year’s world championships. They are followed by Colombia’s Karen Durango Restrepo with a 59.99. Restrepo broke the minute barrier for the first time in March at the Dominican Republic International Open.

Restrepo is the top seed in the 200 with a 2:10.68, followed by Mata Cocco at 2:12.12 and Alondra Ortiz from Costa Rica with a 2:14.12. Mata Cocco’s time is from this year’s Mexican trials, yet her PB of 2:09.32 from 2022 worlds is less than a second off from the Olympic qualifying time of 2:08.43

Women’s 100 & 200 breaststroke

Penn State alumna Melissa Rodriguez from Mexico is the top seed in both events. She swam both of her seeded times of 1:08.74 and 2:28.86 at Mexican trials. Her best times of 1:07.80 and 2:25.60 are from the 2018 CAC Games. The latter is also a championship record. 

Seeded 2nd in the 100 is Stefania Gomez Urtado from Colombia with a 1:09.24. She is followed by Maria Fernanda Jimenez with a 1:09.66. The three of them are the only swimmers under 1:10.

In the 200, Rodriguez is the only swimmer under 2:30. Jimenez is the 2nd seed at 2:31.39 and Venezuela’s Mercedes Toledo is third with a 2:32.99. 

Women’s 50 freestyle

Likewise, Trinidad & Tobago owns the 1st seed in the 50 freestyle with Cherelle Ashley Fran Thompson on the women’s side. The University of Tennessee alumna is less than a second off from the Olympic qualifying time of 24.70. She is followed by Rowe at 25.49 and Virginia Tech’s Madelyn Moore from Bermuda with a 25.72. The event includes five swimmers in the 25 mark and 13 on 26.

Others to watch:

  • Notre Dame alum Sofia Revilak from Mexico is sixth in the 50 freestyle with a 26.16. However, she has broken the 26-second barrier three times already. Her best time now is a 25.54, which she swam at the Mel Zajac Jr International in Vancouver early June, and would seed her 3rd.
  • Former Ohio State swimmer and current member of the pro group at the University of Tennessee Kristen Romano from Puerto Rico is the top seed in both IM events. Her seed time in the 200 is a 2:14.99 and 4:48.52 in the 400, just off her meet record of 4:46.31.
  • Four-time Olympian and former University of Florida Gator Omar Pinzon from Colombia is the first seed in the 200 IM with a 2:02.10, second in the 100 and 200 backstroke (55.31, 2:00.97), and sixth in the 50 backstroke (26.02). 

Day one of Central American & Caribbean games will kick off with the mixed 400 medley relay, the women’s 400 freestyle, men’s 200 butterfly, women’s 50 backstroke, men’s 100 freestyle, women’s 100 breaststroke, and the men’s 800 free relay. 

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Aruban in Florida
8 months ago

Thanks for covering it! Lots of fast swimming at an “under-the-radar” meet. The Games have a high priority to a lot of the participating countries which is why they still send their bests even with worlds around the corner.