Texas A&M swimmer and new Team USA Olympian Shaine Casas is a newcomer swimming and diving fans have been eying for a long time. As a U.S. National Champion, a two-time U.S. National Team member, and the seventh-fastest swimmer for the 100-meter backstroke in U.S. history, his journey to the Olympics isn't really a surprising one.
Shaine signed with his current school in 2017, but much of his training before that has been done on his own time, taking on workouts and laps outside of school sports.
The 6-foot-4 athlete already has times that rival those of previous Olympic medalists, despite this being his first Olympic games.
And Shaine's affinity for the pool and swimming can be closely attributed to his upbringing. His parents have recounted stories of him loving the pool from an early age — despite it also being a source of great tragedy for his family.
Shaine Casas' mother said water has always calmed him.
Even from an early age, Shaine's mother, Monica Epling, said her son has had a clear sense of calm around water.
“He doesn’t believe me when I tell him he was geared toward swimming,” she told RVG Sports in 2017, when Shaine signed with Texas A&M University. “I was severely sick my entire pregnancy, and I couldn’t get comfortable unless I was submerged in the bathtub or water or in the pool. He’s been around water since before he was born.”
She claimed that when Shaine would fuss as a baby, baths would make him stop crying. He would even try to get into the family pool as soon as he could walk. Even his grandmother recounted tales of him attempting to crawl into the pool.
His natural draw to water has seemed to be one of his greatest assets and has been largely attributed to some of his current athletic success. Even from his early youth, his family members say he showed promise as a swimmer.
Shaine Casas' father died in a drowning accident.
Water has played an interestingly important role in Shaine's life, but unfortunately, it's also the source of much tragedy. When the 21-year-old was just a toddler, his father, James Epling, died in a drowning accident.
James worked for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and while pursuing a smuggler, he unfortunately drowned.
James' death was hard on the family, but instead of letting the accident fuel fear in her children, Monica decided to get a family pool.
She said she didn't want Shaine to become "another stat," so once the pool was installed, she got him water safety lessons, according to the USA Swimming website.
These lessons and his clear calmness around water contributed to his eventual love of swimming, which he started pursuing seriously during his sophomore year of high school.
Once he signed with Texas A&M, Shaine began breaking records, scoring points in the NCAA Division I Men's Swimming and Diving Championship as a freshman (the first from his university), and breaking Ryan Lochte's record for the 200-yard backstroke.