Shaine Casas could look at COVID-19 and be devastated that his shot at the Olympics has been delayed.
He doesn’t. Instead, the former McAllen High and current Texas A&M standout swimmer looks at it as being given more time to be ultimately prepared for when — not if — his shot arrives.
“Sure, I was sad and bummed when they announced the NCAAs would be canceled and the Olympics were on hold,” Casas said. “With the way the training and the journey was this year , I thought I had a great shot to make it and to the finals. But, God-willing, next year I will have improved to a level where I’m not just hoping to qualify but will be certain of it. Looking at bigger goals.”
Casas capped off a sensational sophomore campaign with the Aggies swimming and diving team by recently being named to the All-SEC Swimming and Diving First team. He was also named an All-American by the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America in seven different events: the 200 Back, 200 IM, 400 IM, 400 Free Relay, 800 Free Relay, 200 Medley Relay and 400 Medley Relay.
At the SEC Championships, Casas won the Commissioner’s Cup for being the top point scorer for the meet, leading Texas A&M to a second-place finish. He set seven school records throughout the season. The Aggies were ranked among the top five college teams in the country throughout the year, most recently given a No. 7 power ranking — something Casas doesn’t agree with.
“We’re definitely better than that and we have a lot of firepower, but I’m grateful for the season we had. It still went pretty swell,” Casas said. “I did the things I could do and pushed myself to the limit and showed the people what I am making here at the school right now.”
Casas is methodical and diligent in his planning and preparation. He has it mentally mapped out what he wants to accomplish and how to get there. So far, for the most part, he’s been reaching those self-imposed goals. Built with a rare combination of humility and confidence, Casas said that winning for the most part hasn’t been the most surprising part of his season.
“I was most surprised actually when I lost one of the races,” he said. “When you’re training and you believe it shouldn’t shock you to win. If you’re not training to win, what are you training for?”
He admitted, however, to surprising himself at one of the season’s invitationals where he dropped 2 seconds in the 200 Individual Medley and 1.5 seconds in the 100 Backstroke.
“Those are pretty big drops, so that did surprise me some,” he said. “In a good way.”
Casas became the fastest teenager of all time in the 200 IM with a time of 1 minute, 40.16 seconds and 10th fastest swimmer of all time in the 200 IM at the Art Adamson Invitational on the A&M campus. The accolades grew and the records fell at a consistent pace for Casas, whose 200 back time of 1:37.20 broke Ryan Lochte’s SEC meet record of 1:38.29.
Now, however, there isn’t a whole lot to do for Casas, or any of his teammates and/or classmates. He said he has been working on pullups, pushups and running, but clearly “it’s not how it used to be.”
He recalled the days leading up to the announcement that the NCAA Championships were going to be canceled.
“There was a lot of hysteria and skepticism and we would talk about the what ifs, but we doubted it would be canceled,” Casas said. “But then it got real serious and Harvard pulled out and it became a real threat. Then the ACC pulled out and I think we all realized it was going to get canceled.”
Casas said the cancellation deprived the season of closure.
“You never know when that last performance is going to be,” he said. “When you feel it’s your last shot it puts you in another gear. I hate I couldn’t end the season with some closure. But this time has also been good for me to ponder about things like swimming and life and school.
I appreciate the love and support I receive. Things like that motivate me. I want to make my family and coaches proud and bring happiness and accomplishment to them and to my last name.
“This isn’t a story of ‘what ifs.’ I’m not done here,” he said. “I have a lot left in the tank.”