Longhorn Aquatics swimmer Shaine Casas celebrates finally making the U.S. Olympic team

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

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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 who was born in California, went to high school in McAllen and competed for Texas A&M before transferring to the University of Texas where he swims for Longhorn Aquatics.

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.

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.”

NBCDFW Staff contributed to this report

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