A Chance to Serve: Former McAllen Bulldog hopes to represent his country in 2021 Olympics

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Different Service. Same Team.

MISSION (KVEO) – Shaine Casas was born to swim.

“When I was pregnant, I was very, very ill, and the only time that I wasn’t sick or having to be in bed was when I was in the swimming pool or the bathtub,” Monica Epling, Casas’ mother, recalled. “As a baby, the only time he wouldn’t be fussy or crazy was when he was in the bath.”

Born to be in the water, Casas has built a historic resume in the pool.

In three years with the Texas A&M University swim and dive team, Casas has won multiple SEC Championships, multiple NCAA Championships, and a National Swimmer of the Year honor. In his first season with the program, Casas broke six school records.

The former McAllen Bulldog admits his success was once just a dream.

“My freshman year, if I would have looked at myself now I would probably be amazed,” Casas said. “As the time goes on, I kind of now look for it, so it doesn’t take me by surprise anymore.”

Casas has earned his success, but not all of his goals have been met.

Set to compete for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team, Casas was forced to wait another year when the competition was postponed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In hindsight, Casas believes the extra year of preparation allowed him to improve even more.

“A big pro was the younger swimmers being given a little bit more time to grow physically and mentally,” Casas said. “I think that I benefitted greatly.”

With the Tokyo Olympics set for the summer of 2021, Casas eyes this year’s U.S. Olympic trials, which will run from June 13-20 in Omaha, NE. Epling and the rest of Casas’ family already have their tickets booked for the occasion.

“That is, for me, the ultimate honor to represent this country in a positive way,” Epling said. “You could say I’m excessively stressed [for the trials], but right now I’m calm for the most part.”

Epling knows all about representing her country.

A former member of the military, Epling says most of Casas’ family has served the country, including his brother Seth who is currently stationed in Virginia with the United States Marine Corps.

“We come from a long line of military,” Epling said. “For us, it’s the ultimate honor [to serve], especially now when there is so much negative [in the world].”

Casas hopes to serve his country in a different way, making a splash on sports’ biggest stage.

Casas needs to place top two to qualify for the Tokyo Summer Olympics. The games are set to begin on Friday, July 23.

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