Golden boy returns home

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:35 AM ET

If Ray Betuzzi was as good at studying faces at the poker table as he is at the starting blocks, he'd be a very rich man.

Betuzzi, who made Canadian history after winning seven gold medals at the Canada Summer Games last week in Regina, said watching his opponents before they enter the swimming pool can be a big advantage.

"It helps knowing your competitors because you can tell by looking at them if they're really ready to go," said Betuzzi.

"I race against most of the same guys all the time and you can tell how they're feeling by the way they're acting before the race.

"If you can tell someone's off edge, you can take advantage of that and you know you can step it up more and be ready to go."

And take advantage he did.

In total, Betuzzi won four individual gold medals -- 200- and 400-metre freestyle golds as well as 50 and 100 butterfly wins -- plus he grabbed three relay victories in the process.

He added bronze medals in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.

Although he set a Canadian record in the 50 butterfly, the 17-year-old Bishop Carroll high school student admits the 4x100 medley relay win stands out the most.

"I knew the one that was going to be the biggest challenge was the 4x100 medley relay because we knew the teams from Ontario and Quebec were going to be our biggest challenges.

"We knew everyone on the team was going to have to step it up and obviously everyone did and we were happy with that performance," added Betuzzi, who was joined on the podium by Joel Greenshields, Pascal Wollach and Curtis Lutsch with a time of 3:51.74.

While Canadian swimming experts couldn't have predicted such dominance last week, Betuzzi knew there was a chance to make a name for himself.

"I knew going into it that there was a possibility to walk away with that many medals," he explained.

"I knew it was going to be tough because there's guys that I race all the time and it goes back and forth. I just had to step it up and come out with the win."

At this point, Betuzzi has designs of making the 2008 Summer Olympic team destined for Beijing.

With that as a goal, he paid close attention to the World Aquatic Championships, which showcased many of the rising stars on the Canadian team.

"Brett Hayden's 200 freestyle was really great," said Betuzzi. "For him to set the Canadian record, I thought that it was a really great swim."


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