Shaine Casas on Stunning Year: ‘I Want People to Know I am Here’

Shaine Casas reflects on his 2019 year in the pool. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

After winning a national championship to enter the realm of an elite swimmer, Shaine Casas has had one goal since then: to prove he belongs there.

The Texas A&M sophomore put together a few of the fastest races in the country during the annual Art Adamson Invitational in his home pool.

“There was a lot of expectations with that meet because I came off a great summer. People were wondering if this kid was for real and was going to be a factor at trials,” Casas told Swimming World. “People might say it. I think it. I want people to know I am here.”

Casas swam the fastest time in the NCAA so far this year in the 100-yard backstroke, touching the wall in a stunning 44.48, putting him seventh all-time. For this time of the season, the time was stunning.

He turned in another stunning performance in the 200 IM, going a 1:40.16, which put him tenth all-time in the event.

“I was definitely a little bit surprised. Sometimes I like to tell (head coach Jay Holmes) ridiculous times that I would want to go. They seem ridiculous in practice,” Shaine Casas said.

“The one race that surprised me was the 100 backstroke. I knew I was going around that in the 200 IM. The 100 back was one of those that just clicked. Everything felt good and it just happened. I just am trying to replicate that. It was a focus going into that meet.”

But they aren’t so ridiculous by the end of the year.

Casas also earned an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 200 back, finishing in 1:38.21, the second fastest so far this season nation-wide and tied for eighth all-time.

“There was a little bit of intimidation of not being able to live up to the long course performance because historically, I haven’t been as good of a short-course swimmer,” he said. “I am grateful all the hard work is showing in the short course.”

It certainly worked in long course.

Casas put together a dominant performance to win the national title in the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter backstroke in August at Stanford. He finished the 200 in 1:55 and 52.72 in the 100 back, putting himself in the top ten in the world in both events.

“I really couldn’t tell you how it happened. It is a mixture of training hard and believing in myself,” he said. “I had that Mare Nostrum and did pretty well in that and kept building on that. Going into nationals, I told myself I could win it and do something that could shock people.”

Mission accomplished.

It started with change in his long-course work.

“We did a pretty hard cycle and took it easy going into the meet. I don’t even rest into it. It was a lot of mental work. I did things that I had never done before. I felt like a different swimmer, taking (underwaters) to the 15, attention on my start, breakouts and distance off the wall,” Shaine Casas said. “Water training has been a lot more intense. Freshman year, they took it a little easier on us. Now weights have increased and so has water training. Each practice is focusing on details. Freshman year you are blind and just hope for the best.”

Casas is a huge reason the Aggies have moved up to fourth in the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Division I rankings.

“The team dynamic is great right now,” Casas said. “They guys are all working really hard. It is a great environment. The guys push me to keep going. It has been everything and more. I knew it was going to be a good team, but we are definitely turning heads and even surprising ourselves.”

Casas is hoping that trend continues.

“It is just building confidence. I think if I can do it short course, I will definitely do it long course. It may or may not translate the way you want, so you just have to go into (Olympic) Trials confident,” he said.

Confidence could lead Casas into the ultimate goal of making an Olympic team.

“I am in a really good spot. There is a lot more work to be done, a few things I need to focus on it. All the momentum is on my side. In my mind, it is my race to lose. I just need to keep that mentality,” Shaine Casas said. “It is a life goal. It is one of the biggest accomplishments that I would want to have. That is one of the most important things you can do in sport, compete at the highest level. It will kill you if you overwork yourself. It is very important to me but it won’t make or break my life.”

It is about continuing the push forward, which Casas said he has already done after his stellar invitational.

“I definitely had a good meet but I still think I have a lot more to improve on. I want to get things ironed out,” he said. “It was a great meet, but it is in the rearview mirror already.”

It is on to bigger meets and faster times.

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Ron Crocker
3 years ago

Good for you. Keep that attitude and you’ll always be a winner.

Laura Alvarez
3 years ago

So proud of you Shaine! I can’t wait to see you at the trials.