Shaine Casas, Coach Jay Holmes Reflect on Historic Title for Texas A&M Swimming

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Jason Calanog, Shaine Casas and Jay Holmes. Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

An NCAA championship has been a long time coming for Shaine Casas. It has been even longer for the Texas A&M men’s swimming program.

Casas had to wait an extra year because of COVID-19 canceling last year’s meet. But the Aggies have waited for that first title since the NCAA Championships began in 1966 — and since the Aggies started swimming in 1926 — 95 years ago.

“It is incredible. It is definitely an honor to be the first and I hope I won’t be the last,” Shaine Casas said after winning the 200 IM. “I wanted to open the door and show everyone that they can do it, too. The time is cool, but the real thing is getting the job done and taking the gold. It is double the reward (after double the wait with last year’s canceled meet). I felt like I was ready last year … it was even better getting it this time around.”

Shaine Casas put an end to all of the waiting with one quick swim. The junior won the 200 IM in 1:39.53, his first NCAA title and the first ever for the Texas A&M men.

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Shaine Casas. Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

“Shaine is pretty special. There is not too many out there like him. He is so incredibly versatile. We figured he was capable of this. He got that done in the 200 IM and we have a lot of meet to go,” Texas A&M coach Jay Holmes told Swimming World. “My job is basically to get him to the pool on time at this meet. After that this is Shaine time. He is in control of his own destiny and he is just going to go.”

The Aggies have seen multiple runner-up and third-place finishes over the years, but never touched the wall first until Thursday.

“For us, I do follow the history of our program. I have been blessed to be here this long, so I do have a lot of historical perspective. We have had five second-place finishes and I remember every single one of them. We have just never won one,” Holmes said. “We have had some people who could have done it before and it didn’t work out.”

Until now.

It is fitting that Casas was the one to break the title drought. He is the school record-holder in the 100 and 200 free, 100 and 200 back, 100 and 200 fly, and the 200 400 IM — and a part of all five school-record relays.

The program has never seen a swimmer as dominant and as versatile as Shaine Casas, who looked poised to win a title last year before the pandemic shut down that chance.

“You never can tell what could have happen at that meet. Shaine would have done some damage last year. It was disappointing, but it was disappointing for everybody,” Holmes said. “He is special. Everything has to happen right with timing. It comes down to the day at NCAAs. He is no longer a secret. For a while, nobody really knew who he was. Everybody is gunning for him, which is what you want. If you are the best people are coming for you.”