Q&A With Mexican National Record-Setter Gabe Castano

Photo Courtesy: Gabe Castano

By Abigail Sheridan, Swimming World College Intern.

Gabe Castano – accomplished Pennsylvania State University sophomore and Monterrey, Mexico native – completes his fifth year as a competitive swimmer, adding the prestigious title of Mexican national champion to his accolades. He left Mexico’s Long Course National Championships with five gold medals, winning both the 50 and 100 meter freestyles and three relays. The Championships took place in Veracruz from July 5 to 9 at the Centro Acuatico Leyes de Reforma.

Despite these feats in the pool, Castano’s swimming success did not start at a young age; his rise in the swimming world is a relatively recent one. Previously, Castano was a cyclist and earned a national title at just five years old. While the race may not have been as intense as those he swam in Veracruz, his sprinting ability has yet to falter. He never imagined he would go so far with swimming and is glad he made the switch from cycling.

gabe-castano-child

Photo Courtesy: Gabe Castano

Castano only joined his high school’s swim team at at Allentown Central Catholic to try something new and meet friends as a freshman. Yet Castano quickly fell in love with the sport and trained with Parkland Aquatic Club, ending his high school career with both a Pennsylvania state title and record in the 50 freestyle. In the video below, Castano can be seen winning and setting the record.

Swimming World got the chance to catch up with Castano about his recent accomplishments and future goals.

Swimming World: First, congratulations on your recent successes! I have your winning 50 freestyle time as 22.70 – that’s half a second faster than the USA Olympic Trials cut from 2016. What goals did you have going in?

Castano: Going into the meet, I did have the national record in sight and wanted to break it, but I didn’t think much else of it. I didn’t think it wasn’t attainable or out of my reach.

SW: This time last year your fastest long course time was 24.41 at the PAAC Firecracker Meet. What have you been doing to drop so much time in the 50 in just one year?

Castano: I actually went a 23.67 at senior champs in July of last year, which is still a big drop. Last summer, I wasn’t too focused with my training and went to senior champs with minimal training. Dropping that much time was a result of the months of preparation I have done at Penn State.

gabe-castano-swimming

Photo Courtesy: Colin Sheridan

SW: Obviously winning five gold medals at a national meet is an extremely impressive achievement. What expectations did you have going in?

Castano: I went in to nationals with one goal – to win the 50 and 100 free. The way the teams work at nationals is not by club but rather, by state. I represented Nuevo Leon, which is where I was born and where I lived. I wasn’t sure if my coach would put me in relays, and sure enough, I was in three! So my Nuevo Leon teammates were very fast and they put me in a great position every time.

SW: How does it feel to hold a National record?

Castano: Holding the national record is an amazing feeling, but to achieve my career goals that was something I needed to do, so now I have to train harder than ever to make it to the next level. That record was a great step towards my goals.

SW: How are you currently training?

Castano: I am currently taking some time off with my family, but before Nationals, I had practice at 7 every morning Monday through Saturday, with lifting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I had doubles Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

SW: How did you prepare for Nationals?

Castano: I prepared for nationals by staying for the first summer session at Penn State to train and take a class. This helped me focus on my goals.

SW: I know that you’ve changed coaches a few times in the past two years, from high school season to club to college – how has that affected you?

Castano: As far as the coaching change, it doesn’t affect me much at all. I stay focused on the task and don’t let anything like that affect me.

SW: How did you decide that Penn State was the right place for you?

Castano: I fell in love with Penn State after my recruiting trip in the fall of 2016. I liked how close the team was, and it was close to home, so for me it was the complete package.

gabe-castano-psu

Photo Courtesy: Gabe Castano

SW: How has your time there influenced your swimming?

Castano: My time at PSU helped me realize the importance of taking care of yourself outside of the pool. I used to just forget about how much I needed to take care of my body, what I put in my body and how much sleep I needed. I now understand all of that better and take care of my self in that sense.

SW: Can you tell me about your future goals?

Castano: My goal heading into short course season next year is make NCAAs in the 50 and 100 free. My goal for long course season is to hopefully compete in Mexico early spring after B1Gs and qualify for the World Championships in Korea. If I can’t go to Mexico in the spring, I will go to the Pan American games representing Mexico.

SW: How do you cope if you don’t go as fast as you would like?

Castano: I don’t dwell on bad swims or meets. My 100 free was good, but there are a lot of things I know I can improve. That makes me work harder towards the perfect race that I want.

SW: Have you had any rough patches in swimming so far? If so, how have you successfully dealt with staying motivated?

Castano: I had a few rough swims throughout my career. Sophomore and junior year, I didn’t have a great state championships meet. Senior year, I turned that around and had a very good meet. When I am training for a meet, I don’t think about how bad it can go. I always visualize my race and focus on the little things before it. During the race, there’s no time to think about anything, so I put my head down and let the months of preparation show.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Author: Abigail Sheridan

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Abigail Sheridan attended Parkland High School and will attend Siena College as a biology major in the honors program starting fall 2018. She fell in love with swimming at age 7 and can’t imagine her life without it. Abigail spends her free time reading, running, being with friends and thinking about swimming.

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