Swimming World Presents – Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas: The Aggies’ Breakout Star

Swimming World March 2021 - Texas A&M Shaine Casas - Who is this guy
Texas A&M Aggie Shaine Casas at the 2019 USA Swimming Nationals [PHOTO BY CONNOR TRIMBLE]

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Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas: The Aggies’ Breakout Star

By David Rieder

Before the summer of 2019, Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas wasn’t exactly impressing anyone with his swimming. But if his performances since then are any indication, the end results could be spectacular. His coaches see his potential as basically unlimited, and recent history makes it tough to disagree. As for Casas, he has similarly lofty expectations for himself.

In the spring of 2019, Shaine Casas was showing promising ability, but nothing that indicated that the then-19-year-old would win a national title in a few months. Certainly, no one—at least no one outside of his inner circle—imagined that Casas would soon become the country’s best collegiate swimmer.

The last time the United States held a major selection meet, the 2018 summer nationals, Casas was a total non-factor. He swam five events and qualified for two B-finals, one C-final and two D-finals. At his first NCAA Championships eight months later, Casas finished as high as 11th in the 200 fly in two consolation finals appearances.

Now, the 21-year-old McAllen, Texas, native and Texas A&M junior enters the college championship season with the top time in the country in four events while threatening American records. He has never competed internationally, but he has become a contender, if not a favorite, to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. And the person least surprised by all that success?

Shaine Casas.

ALL HE NEEDED WAS A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
“I definitely believed I was talented, and I was very ambitious,” Casas said. “I just felt like I didn’t have the same resources or opportunities as other swimmers. I felt like I had to wait to get my chance. I had to move for a summer just to get a chance to train with a really good club program doing doubles and a somewhat thought-out and methodical weight program with Nitro. I always felt like I was at a disadvantage until I got to the level that everybody was at, and I felt once the playing field was even, I could really explode and put distance on people.”

Since the summer of 2019, Casas has been on a hot streak, seemingly surpassing every expectation in sight, and he oozes confidence in his abilities. He’s flown somewhat under the radar since not a single national-level meet has been held since U.S. nationals in August 2019, but it was at that meet when Casas made his career breakthrough, posting massive time drops to win the 100 meter back and finish second in the 200 back (behind Austin Katz) and the 200 IM (behind Ryan Lochte).

In his sophomore season swimming for the Aggies (2019-20), Casas was masterful. He won SEC titles in the 200 yard back and 200 IM and finished second in the 100 back to reigning 50 meter back World champion Zane Waddell. He led off four A&M relays, including a victorious effort in the 200 medley, and the team finished in an impressive second place. He was set up to star at NCAAs, seeded first in the 200 back and 200 IM and second in the 400 IM.

But when the NCAA meet was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Casas lost his big chance. Soon after, he lost another opportunity when the Olympic Trials and Olympics were postponed to 2021. Carrying so much momentum and knowing he had such a huge chance to prove himself on a significant stage, the cancellations were a severe bummer.

“I felt like I didn’t have any closure, really,” Casas said. “I was pretty frustrated, and I was upset for a while because I felt like I was robbed. Going into a meet seeded first, there was a good possibility I could have won. I could have lost, also, but I felt like I had a lot to prove that season.”

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Click here to download the complete March 2021 issue, available now!

Swimming World March 2021 - Shane Casas - COVER[PHOTO CREDIT: CONNOR TRIMBLE]

 

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Swimming World March 2021 Issue

FEATURES

012 THIS SHOULD BE WELL WORTH THE WAIT
by Dan D’Addona
A year ago, all eyes were on Cal and Texas in what looked to be one of the greatest men’s NCAA Championship duels ever. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out that showdown, but spirits are running high one year later—not only for that much anticipated Cal-Texas confrontation, but for the simple fact that college swimmers will again be able to come together and compete at a national championship.

014 YES, VIRGINIA, NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE YOUR MOVE
by Dan D’Addona
For years, Stanford and Cal have been battling each other for national supremacy at women’s NCAAs, with the Cardinal and Golden Bears finishing 1-2 in the last three championships. Before that, Cal had put together four team titles since 2009. But in 2021, look for Virginia to make its move—not only as a new rival, but quite possibly as a new champion!

016 ALL SYSTEMS GO…FOR NOW!
by Andy Ross
Although the NCAA Division III and NAIA had canceled their championship swimming and diving meets in early February, NCAA  Division II was still a “go,” thereby preserving the possibility for Queens University of Charlotte to pursue its sixth straight men’s and women’s team titles.

018 DOC’S GUYS
by John Lohn
In the late 1960s into the early 1970s, Doc Counsilman’s Indiana University swimming program was a focal point of the sport. His legendary teams were a dominant presence not just on the collegiate scene, but also on the national—and international—stage.

021 THE “MOUNT RUSHMORE” OF NCAA DIVISION I SWIMMING
by Andy Ross
If there were a sculpture made of the top American NCAA Division I swimmers similar to the one depicting four U.S. Presidents on Mount Rushmore, Tracy Caulkins, Natalie Coughlin, Pablo Morales and John Naber would be worthy honorees. No other swimmer has won more NCAA D-I individual titles than those four.

024 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO: OLYMPIC RIVALRIES OF YESTERYEAR
by John Lohn
Rivalries have always defined the sport. Michael Phelps vs. Ian Crocker. Gary Hall Jr. vs. Alexander Popov. Shirley Babashoff vs. East Germany. These are just a few rivalries that stand out and should long be remembered. But what about the rivalries from the early days of swimming? As our “Takeoff to Tokyo” series continues, Swimming World takes a look at some of these rivalries from yesteryear.

026 WHO IS THIS GUY?
by David Rieder
Before the summer of 2019, Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas had been swimming under the radar. But if his performances since then are any indication, the end results could be spectacular. His coaches see his potential as basically unlimited, and recent history makes it tough to disagree. As for Casas, he has similarly lofty expectations for himself.

029 ISHOF: THE VALUE OF SWIMMING IN WAR
by Bruce Wigo
In the early 1900s, there was scarcely an American alive who was unfamiliar with the name of Frederick Funston. He was the most decorated and celebrated hero of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902)—famous in military and swimming history for his willingness to have his men swim across rivers, under fire, when, according to press reports, “They couldn’t otherwise get at the enemy quickly enough to suit them.”

COACHING

041 SPECIAL SETS: BOWE KNOWS SWIMMING
by Michael J. Stott
Bowe Becker has trained with Sandpipers of Nevada coaches Ron Aitken and Cutter Haupt as well as Kelly Kremer at the University of Minnesota (2015-19). The eight-time NCAA All-American, Big Ten champion and conference record holder in the 50-100 free now swims with the ISL’s Cali Condors. Coach Haupt provides some sample workouts from November 2014, which were done prior to that year’s December sectionals.

043 Q&A WITH COACH MATT BARANY
by Michael J. Stott

044 HOW THEY TRAIN MAGGIE PURCELL
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

040 DRYSIDE TRAINING:  PULLING POWER
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

046 UP & COMERS: LIAM CUSTER
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT PRINCE DABULAMANZI & THE BATTLE OF ISANDLWANA?

011 THE OFFICIAL WORD

032 2021 SWIM CAMP DIRECTORY

047 HASTY HIGH POINTERS

048 GUTTERTALK

049 PARTING SHOT