2020 Swammy Awards: NCAA Male Swimmer of the Year – Shaine Casas

by Robert Gibbs 13

December 21st, 2020 2020 Swammy Awards, College, News, SEC

To see all of our 2020 Swammy Awards, click here.

2020 Male NCAA Swimmer of the Year: Shaine Casas

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: two college swimmers shattered the all-time records in yards events this year, and neither of them were Shaine Casas. We’ll recognize those two men below, but in our minds, Casas gets the edge for putting up top-10 performances in a bevy of events, both earlier in the spring before Covid shut everything down, and again this fall as things revved back up a bit.

The Texas A&M star had a strong spring as a sophomore, putting up NCAA-scoring times in at least six different events, and generating headlines with several historic swims at the SEC Championships in February. He became the 7th-fastest man ever in the 200 IM, cracking 1:40 with a 1:39.91. He tied the SEC record in the 100 back, before wrapping up the meet by moving up to #5 all-time in the 200 back with a 1:37.20. He also led off the Aggies 800 free relay with a 1:32.29, a time would be fast enough to secure him a spot in the 200 free A-final at NCAAs if he chose to enter that event.

A couple weeks after his historic run at SECs, Casas kept up the speedy swimming at the American Short Course Championships. In only his fourth time ever swimming the 400 IM, he went 3:37.59, good for 14th all-time. For good measure, he also hit 1:40.33 in the 200 fly at that meet, recording yet another time fast enough to make the A-final at NCAAs.

Best times January-March

  • 50 free – 20.14
  • 100 free – 42.75
  • 200 free – 1:32.29
  • 50 back – 20.84
  • 100 back – 44.68
  • 200 back – 1:37.20
  • 200 fly – 1:40.33
  • 200 IM – 1:39.91
  • 400 IM – 3:37.59

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see what Casas, or anyone else, could do at NCAAs, as those were canceled due to the then-burgeoning Covid-19 pandemic. But, while, we can only imagine what Casas might’ve done in March, what we do know is that he came raring out of the gate once he was able to compete again this fall.

While the Longhorn men may refer to “Rocktober” as the time they’re broken down with heavy training, Casas gave a new meaning to the term as he rocked the pool in Austin at Texas’s “First Chance” meet in mid-October. He picked up right where he left off seven months earlier, throwing down a 44.40 in the 100 back, 1:36.54 in the 1200 back, 1:40.52 in the 200 IM, and 3:38.22 in the 400 IM. That 200 back time moved him up to #4 all-time, and puts him only a second away from Ryan Murphy’s 1:35.73, the fastest swim ever. Again, this was in October.

In early November, Casas kept rolling, starting with a 1:39.23 in the 200 fly at Texas A&M-TCU dual meet, good for #7 all-time. Less than two weeks at the Art Adamson Invite, he popped a 1:38.95 in the 200 IM, joining Caeleb Dressel and Andrew Seliskar as the only two men to go under 1:39. He then went 43.87 in the 100 back to become the 3rd-fastest ever in that event. He flexed a bit of sprint speed too with a 19.15 relay leadoff, a time that would qualify him for NCAAs in the 50 free, and would probably score in the B-final.

Maybe at this point you’re unconvinced, and think that repeatedly putting up some of the fastest times ever in multiple events at multiple points all year is great, but still not as great as actually being the fastest-ever in at least one event. And you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but maybe this will sway your mind.

In December, Casas put a cherry on top of his speedy sundae, dropping a 46.33 in the 100 IM to become the fastest-ever in the event by 0.73s. While USA Swimming doesn’t officially track records in that event, times do end up in the SWIMS database, and the fastest known swim before Casas was Matt Grevers’ 47.06 back in 2016.

Best times September-November

  • 50 free – 19.15
  • 50 back – 20.82
  • 100 back – 43.87
  • 200 back – 1:36.54
  • 200 fly – 1:39.23
  • 100 IM – 46.33
  • 200 IM – 1:38.95
  • 400 IM – 3:38.22

Sam Pomajevich in the 200 fly and Coleman Stewart in the 100 back each knocked Casas back one spot in the all-time rankings after he put up the aforementioned-times, but when all is said and done, here’s where Casas stands all-time:

  • 100 back – 4th
  • 200 back – 4th
  • 200 fly – 9th
  • 100 IM – 1st
  • 200 IM – 3rd

For owning top-ten times in five different events, plus NCAA-scoring worthy in several others, and putting up historic times no matter the time of year, Casas is the NCAA Swimmer of the Year for 2020.

Honorable Mentions

  • Kieran Smith (Florida) – We’ve gotten used to seeing some incredibly fast swimming at the SEC Championships over the years, and 2020 was no exception. Florida sophomore Kieran Smith had shown flashes of brilliance before, but he broke out in a big way on the second day of SECs, blasting a 4:06.32 in the 500 free to break Zane Grothe’s U.S. Open Record record of 4:07.25 from 2017. Smith also had a historic time in a second event the day before, when he led off Florida’s 4×200 free relay with a 1:30.11, moving him up to #4 all-time. Smith already had a 1:47 in the 200m free, and given how NCAA 500 free champions tend to fare in the long course 200 free, Smith was starting to feel like a lock for at least making the USA men’s 4×200 free team in Rio, if not nailing down an individual spot.
  • Bobby Finke (Florida) – Finke, Smith’s fellow Gator sophomore teammate may have had the single most jaw-dropping swim in college swimming this year when he went 14:12.08 in the 1650 at SECs. He nearly broke two records in the same event, as he hit the 1000 yard mark at 8:34.63, coming within 0.7s of Clark’s Smith American, NCAA, and U.S. Open Records in that event. As it stood, Finke’s 14:12 knocked over six seconds off of the U.S. Open Record of 14:18.25 held by Grothe and ten seconds off of Smith’s former NCAA record of 14:22.41.

Prior Winners:

  • 2014 – Ryan Murphy, Cal
  • 2015 – Will Licon, Texas
  • 2016 – Ryan Murphy, Cal
  • 2017 – Caeleb Dressel, Florida
  • 2018 – Caeleb Dressel, Florida
  • 2019 – Andrew Seliskar, Cal
  • 2020 – Shaine Casas, Texas A&M

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Coach Cwik
1 year ago

Hats off to Shane, but none of his swims are the best we have ever seen.

Reply to  Coach Cwik
1 year ago

You’re mad

Reply to  Coach Cwik
1 year ago

I mean… that’s literally what the 100 IM is.

But also that’s why he didn’t win “swim of the year” but rather Swimmer of the Year. Like the article says, even though he didn’t shatter a record like Finke or Smith, He put himself Top-10 All-Time in 5 events… Top-4 in 4 o_O

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Coleman Hodges
1 year ago

You’re putting a lot of stock in the 100 IM and conveniently ignoring that due to the schedule of college championship meets we’re likely never going to see Kieran swim 2 of his best 4 events at any given meet. Having the 2IM/4IM in the same sessions as the 200/500 is rough for the best mid-distance swimmers, so he loses his best opportunity to crack your top 4 metric. I’d probably rank his “fastest time ever + another top 4 all time swim” ahead of Shaine’s 3 top 4 all time swims. That’s not saying Shaine isn’t great-he is! And I think he will probably be the 2021 college swimmer of the year! But for last year, I think it’s… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

Ok, so even taking the 100 IM out of it, I still think Shaine wins this award.

Part of being the “Best College Swimmer” is being the most impressive within the college system aka being elite in 3 individuals. Kieran is OBVIOUSLY elite in 3+ individuals, but he does get a tough break in this format because of the IM/Mid-free overlaps.

BUT that doesn’t mean you judge him by different criteria. I think in the NCAA format, especially when you factor in relays, Shaine is the guy for 2020. He’s contributing much more than Kieran. Especially since he swam the insane 2back in October, the insane 2fly at who knows where at a dual meet, and then the… Read more »

1 year ago

Dean Farris still should’ve won

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

I’m not sure “He went the fastest time in a rarely swam event, and a time that likely would fall 2 seconds short of what the theoretical record for said event would be if it were a real event” is the clincher your argument is looking for here.

Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

It’s more of a preemptive ‘technically-correct’ defense for the naysayers arguing Finke or Smith should get it since they’re the fastest ever in an event.

Last edited 1 year ago by iLikePsych
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

Now you got me thinking about what a Dressel 100 IM would look like

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Joe
1 year ago

I posted this in another thread, but Dressel:
100 Fly -> 47.7 SCM – 42.8 SCY
100 Free -> 45.0 SCM – 39.9 SCY
100 IM -> 49.2 SCM – roughly 44.2 SCY would be my guess

1 year ago

Soooo many dudes would kill to have his backstroke times as their freestyle times

Jonathan Charbroiled Steak
1 year ago

I’m sure that Casas Gold in Tokyo is very excited based off of this

Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
Reply to  Jonathan Charbroiled Steak
1 year ago

more excitement next year.

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