Shaine Casas Delivers After Two Years of Build Up: ‘The Pressure Was Incredible’

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Photo Courtesy: Luke Jamroz Photography

Shaine Casas has been the up-and-coming star for years, and with the NCAA championships canceled last year, that just added a year of wondering what the Texas A&M swimmer would be capable of.

Casas felt that pressure, both internally and externally for nearly two years, and it reached a breaking point before this year’s NCAA Championships.

“The pressure was incredible. It almost cracked me. I was not going to come to this meet but my mom was there for me and my friends and coaches inspired me and supported me to push through and keep going. I am very happy that I did,” Shaine Casas said. “After SECs, I felt like I cracked a little. The pressure and everything going on with me was just too much. I felt like I had not mental health issues, but too many things going on — dealing with too much. But I fell back on my support system and I did it for them and I am so happy that it worked out this way.”

Casas won U.S. national titles in 2019, which was a breakout meet for him. But with so long between big meets, the speculation grew about what he was capable of — and he proved it with three NCAA titles this week in Greensboro.

“It is just confidence. Everybody thought I could do it. I thought I could do it. It was just a matter of time until I did it. Now it is official, I am a champion. It is more proving who I was. I am not just a rumor or a post anymore,” Casas said.

Shaine Casas did more than just get to the meet. He put together a spectacular show, winning all three of his individual events.

On Thursday, he won the 200 IM in 1:39.53, the first individual NCAA title for himself or any Texas A&M men’s swimmer in history. On Friday, he won the 100 backstroke in 44.20, then made it three-for-three with the 200 backstroke win to close out his meet.

“It was start-to-finish pretty awesome. Definitely a talented field of guys and it was an exciting race,” Casas said of the 200 backstroke, which he won in 1:35.75, the second-fastest performer in history, ahead of Cal freshman Destin Lasco (1:35.99). “I definitely didn’t think he was going to come back that fast. I knew what I was trying to go but I didn’t know how fast he was going. The 150 turn came and I was like, ‘Man this kid is still with me. He is the real deal.’ I was a little bit behind and the last turn I made the decision that it was fine if I passed out or whatever, but I was going to use everything I had the last 25. It was enough fortunately. I was happy with the race and finally felt satisfied. It was just so fun for once.”

It was a huge finale.

“The individual accolades are pretty impressive, but I definitely fell short on times and stuff like that, but I still got the job done — three-for-three. Hopefully that is something that this year’s success can build on in the future. I can’t take away that it was a great meet, but I want more than a great meet, I want an excellent meet,” Casas said.

This meet showed Casas what it will take to get there this summer.

“I felt like I wasn’t in the best shape I could have been because of the circumstances this year, but I did the best I could in that moment. That is something I struggled with at SECs,” Shaine Casas said. “It just came down to I didn’t apply myself and do enough. Going through the progress of this meet and I am going to add what works and add that for long course and hopefully apply that for the Olympic Trials and hopefully the Olympic Games.”