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Shaine Casas makes U.S. Olympic team

Shaine Casas makes U.S. Olympic team
3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago Saturday, June 22 2024 Jun 22, 2024 June 22, 2024 1:35 PM June 22, 2024 in Sports
Source: APnews.com
Shaine Casas celebrates after the Men's 200 individual medley finals Friday, June 21, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Shaine Casas looked at the scoreboard, took off his cap and slapped the water furiously as if he had just won the men's 200-meter individual medley at Friday's U.S. Olympic Trials.

Finishing second was well worth it for the 24-year-old Californian.

Yes, three years after finishing third and sixth in his two top events at the trials in Omaha, Nebraska, and missing the Olympic team, Casas finally managed to achieve his lifetime ambition — making the American team.

"I think I'm going to remember that race for the rest of my life," Casas said. "It wasn't my best race, it wasn't even my fastest race, but that race represented my entire life, and I can't even put into words what it means to me,"

Casas finished in 1 minute, 55.83 seconds, just a touch behind Carson Foster to earn the second qualifying spot in the event.

It wasn't easy.

Casas acknowledged the memories of missing the Tokyo Games helped propel him through the painful final 50 meters, on his way to Paris and into a postrace celebration he shared with Foster that won't be soon forgotten. Foster won both IM races this week in Indianapolis.

And while Casas didn't come into Indianapolis as the favorite — like he was in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced a one-year postponement of the Tokyo Games — there have been plenty of surprises at this year's trials, perhaps none more so than the emergence of Chris Guiliano, the first Notre Dame swimmer to qualify for the U.S. men's Olympic swim team.

He qualified in his third individual event Friday, finishing the 50 freestyle in 21.69 seconds. Only seven-time Olympic gold medalist Caleb Dressel was quicker, by 0.28 seconds.

Guiliano became the first American male to qualify in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle since Matt Biondi in 1988 and will also compete on multiple relay teams. Biondi made three U.S. Olympic teams and won 11 gold medals and when Guiliano's feat was announced on the pool deck, Dressel goofed around with the 20-year-old emerging star.

"I said to my coaches a couple times, 'Like why not?'" Giuliano said. "'Let's go through the three months to try and go for one and then all of a sudden, that's just kind of like the mindset I had going into the trials."

But for Casas, the qualifying swim was the most momentous in a career that took him from California to Texas and eventually Texas A&M as he rose from top prospect to short-course star and became an Olympic hopeful with a comeback that will go down as second to none.

"You hit it right on, it was relief," Casas said. "I've played that race in my head, I've dreamt about it, visualized what that moment would be like. I was kind of emotional because it was a lot to take in. That kind of represented my entire life's work and everyone important to me, who helped me get to this point."

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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