SwimmingShaine Casas Rebounds, Sneaks Onto Worlds Team With Last Chance

Shaine Casas Rebounds, Sneaks Onto Worlds Team With Last Chance

Shaine Casas Rebounds, Sneaks Onto Worlds Team With Last Opportunity

After a summer where he won World Championships bronze in the 200 backstroke and then posted the top times in the United States in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM, Shaine Casas appeared to on the verge of becoming a multi-event star. But selection meets are the gateway to any international success, and through the first four days of U.S. Nationals, Casas was struggling.

Casas missed the finals in both the 100 free and 200 back, scratching out of the consolation heats. He got into the 100 fly final and was seeded second, but he fell two tenths short of a qualifying spot, finishing third in 51.42, a full second slower than his 2022 best. Then, in a surprise, CAasas was a no-show for his 100 back heat Friday morning, giving up a sure spot in the championship final.

The decision allowed Casas to put his full focus on the 200 IM, his final race of the meet and one in which he knew a performance close to his best (1:55.24) would be more than sufficient to qualify for Worlds. But after his day off, Casas got a major scare in prelims. He finished fourth in his heat in 1:59.60, and that got him into the A-final in the eighth position by 17 hundredths over ninth-place swimmer Baylor Nelson. Casas surely benefited from the absence of Chase Kalisz, the 400 IM runnerup and 200 IM fourth-place finisher from last year’s World Championships who withdrew from the event due to food poisoning.

Maybe it was only fitting that after his disappointing week, Casas got one break. He took advantage.

Swimming in lane eight, Casas got himself into second place behind the favored Carson Foster, but with 50 meters remaining, the margin was only three tenths ahead of Trenton Julian with strong freestylers Destin Lasco and Kieran Smith also charging home. But Casas held strong and came in a half-second ahead of the field at 1:57.47, still two seconds off his best but good enough to earn a trip to Fukuoka.

Casas will enter the World Championships later this month as the third-ranked swimmer in the world in the 200 IM — not with his 1:57-mid performance from Nationals (which would narrowly rank among the top-10) but with the 1:56.06 he swam in April at the Westmont Pro Series meet, where he finished only four tenths behind defending world champion Leon Marchand. So he has the talent to achieve a medal-worthy swim, but he will need to come through with the pressure on.

This was not the first time Casas has struggled while favored for a big performance at a trials meet. In 2021, he narrowly missed the Olympic team in the 100 back despite a solid swim, and he could not recover in time for the 200-meter race, where he finished well off the pace of the leaders. This time, however, Casas found a way to keep his focus and confidence to rebound before it was too late and earn the all-important qualification spot.

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