U.S. Nationals: Shaine Casas Blazes to No. 6 All-Time Performer in 100 Butterfly; Equals Iconic Mark of Ian Crocker (VIDEO)


U.S. Nationals: Shaine Casas Blazes to No. 6 All-Time in 100 Butterfly; Equals Iconic Mark of Ian Crocker

There was a time when Shaine Casas was deemed – more than anything – a can’t-miss prospect in the backstroke events. Sure enough, he fulfilled that potential. If NCAA titles weren’t enough to confirm that status, a bronze medal in the 200-meter backstroke at last month’s World Championships certainly got the job done.

These days, though, Casas is much more than a backstroke phenom. Less than two years out from the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, the 22-year-old rates as one of the world’s premier all-around performers. His backstroke skill is complemented by world-class ability in the 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle.

It was the 100 butterfly in which he flourished on Thursday night, as the third day of the United States National Championships wrapped up at the William Woollett Aquatic Center. Racing at the Southern California venue, Casas churned out a personal-best mark of 50.40, a significant figure in the history of the sport. It was the second podium of the meet for Casas, who finished third in the 100 freestyle on the opening night of action.

By clocking in at 50.40, Casas soared into a tie for sixth all-time in the event, sharing the place with Ian Crocker. It was at the 2005 World Championships in Montreal in which Crocker put that number on the scoreboard, a world record at the time that was difficult to fathom. Seventeen years later, Casas equaled that time to join Crocker as the third-fastest American.

Meet Results

The fact that Casas produced a spectacular showing in the 100 fly was hardly a shock, given the way he has improved in the event over the past few years. More, at the Austin Sectionals earlier this month, Casas etched himself as one of the fastest men in the history of the event, on the strength of a 50.56 performance. That time ranked Casas in a tie for ninth on the all-time list, and fourth among Americans.

Obviously, he wanted to be a little quicker.

In what was primarily a race against the clock, Casas surged off the blocks and covered the first length in 23.31, which gave him a .66 margin over Shaun Champion. Down the last lap, Casas continued to pull away and turned in a split of 27.09. His final time would have won silver at the World Champs. Champion touched the wall in second in 51.54, with Gabriel Jett going 52.19 for third.

“Off the turn, I did my underwaters and was thinking, ‘let’s give it a shot at going 49,’ Casas said. “I have the potential, let’s see what I can go. I was swimming and was getting tired, so I focused on my hips like Eddie (Reese) told me, and I just put my head down to the wall. 50.4 is not a bad time. It isn’t what I wanted, but I’m on month seven or eight with Texas, so I’ll take it.”

Casas was a star for Texas A&M on the collegiate scene before deciding to turn professional before the 2021-22 campaign. Eventually, he moved his training to the Jamail Swim Center, on the campus of the University of Texas, and the work he has logged with Eddie Reese has enabled Casas to enhance his profile.

The next Olympiad is rapidly approaching, an unsurprising scenario given the three-year gap between Tokyo and Paris due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And Casas has quickly emerged as a medal hopeful in the 100 butterfly, among other events. A measure of his podium-contender status will be next year’s United States International Team Trials and the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

As the world-record holder and reigning Olympic champion, Caeleb Dressel remains No. 1 in the event, a stranglehold that leaves just one American bid into global competitions – be it the Olympics or World Champs. As it stands, two guys are fighting for the second slot, Casas and Michael Andrew, another multi-event star.

At the recent World Champs in Budapest, Andrew finished fourth in the 100 fly, his outing of 51.11 just short of the podium. More impressive, Andrew turned in a 50.06 fly leg as the United States claimed the silver medal behind Italy in the 400 medley relay. While the pressure was not comparable, Casas has surely fired several warning shots.

Casas has another intriguing event ahead at Nationals, as he’s scheduled to contest the 200 individual medley on the final day of the meet. That platform, like the 100 butterfly, will serve as an opportunity for Casas to display his burgeoning skill.


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