Shaine Casas competes in the men's 200-meter backstroke final at the Phillips 66 International Team Trials on April 27, 2022 in Greensboro, N.C.
Shaine Casas needed to do some soul searching after he failed to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
He asked himself, “What’s going to happen next?”
Casas decided to take a two-month break from swimming to try to sort things out. He avoided watching the Tokyo Olympics on TV, and he took some time to think about why he even wanted to be an Olympian.
“That was crazy to fail like that,” Casas said. “I think that was kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Like everything came down. I missed the team, (and) all this happened.”
Casas, 22, has gained some perspective in the year since he suffered such a personal and professional setback at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska.
A year ago, Casas arrived at the Olympic trials as a rising star in the 100-meter backstroke. While his spot in Tokyo wasn’t guaranteed, many experts believed he’d earn one of the two spots in the event.
However, then the unthinkable happened in Omaha. Casas, a native of McAllen, Texas, finished an unexpected third in the 100 backstroke behind American record holder Ryan Murphy and Ohio State’s Hunter Armstrong.
Casas has made several big changes in his life since coming up just short of his goal at the Olympic trials last June.
He moved to Austin, Texas, from College Station, where he won three national championships at Texas A&M University in 2021. He also shocked many in the swimming world by deciding to turn professional after missing out on the Olympics.
Along the way, Casas rediscovered his reasons for wanting to swim. As he put it, he’s back in business and taking his return to the pool one step at a time.
“I stepped away. I was like ‘I’m done for a little bit. I’m done,’” Casas said. “I stepped away for a couple of months, and I just kind of reevaluated, just really thought about why do I do this. Like, swimming is not a sport, if you’re looking for money, it’s not here. If you’re looking for fame, it can be here but not really.
“It’s just because I enjoy the sport and I’m competitive, and I think that’s what I want.”
Casas took another step in his comeback when he overcame a mild illness and some nervousness to put together a promising showing at last week’s Phillips 66 International Team Trials in Greensboro, North Carolina.