Swimmer Shaine Casas missed the Olympics, then made a rare move


Shaine Casas missed the Olympic team last year, then did something usually reserved for Olympians. He turned professional.

Casas, a 22-year-old former Texas A&M standout, has openly stated that his biggest motivation stems from last June’s Olympic Trials, when he finished third at a meet where the top two make the team.

He then took two months off from swimming, avoided watching the Olympics — “I didn’t want to relive my biggest failure,” he said. — and, after first entering the NCAA transfer portal, eventually turned professional instead, moving from College Station to Austin.

“Everybody probably assumes, how could he do this, he’s betraying the school, all this stuff,” Casas said on a SwimSwam podcast in January. “It’s not personal. This is business. If you want to be good in this sport, you’ve got to make the hard decision.”

The early 2022 returns back that up.

In two Pro Series meets this year, Casas owns wins in the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly against fields that included Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel. The latter came on Thursday, the first full night of finals at the San Antonio stop, the last top-level meet before the world championships trials in four weeks.

PRO SERIES: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

“I’m aware that they’re in the heat,” Casas, who clocked 51.09, said of Dressel, who touched in 51.79, and fellow national teamers Coleman Stewart and Michael Andrew, “but I just kind of zone out and do my thing.”

In his four best events, Casas must contend with a countryman who won the Olympic title in either 2016 or 2021. Casas now ranks No. 1 in the nation this year in the 100m fly and 100m free — Dressel’s territory — and second in the 100m and 200m backstrokes, his signature stroke. Only Ryan Murphy, who swept the backstroke golds at the 2016 Olympics, has been faster there.

“I understand that they’re still right above me,” Casas said on retired Australian Olympian and former Auburn coach Brett Hawke‘s podcast. “No matter how long it takes, I’ll try my best to beat them. I definitely respect their position, their excellence and their performance.”

USA Swimming believes Casas is the first American male swimmer to cut short an NCAA career to turn pro since fellow backstroke star Aaron Peirsol in 2004. Peirsol went to the University of Texas, where Casas now trains under the same coach, the legendary Eddie Reese.

Michael Phelps and Michael Andrew also turned pro since 2000, both doing so before enrolling in college.

Casas, who is 6-foot-4, has dunked and owns several Michael Jordan posters, said he didn’t take swimming seriously until college. Casas blossomed at Texas A&M under a staff that included Jason Calanog — Dressel’s prep coach.

But he said he was complacent going into the Olympic Trials, a mindset that manifested in bouncing off lane lines during races. Casas entered as the second-fastest American in the 200m backstroke for the year, then swam 1.85 seconds slower than his personal best. He said the meet felt like getting punched in the mouth.

“If people ask me, I have no problem telling them I just wasn’t prepared enough,” he said. “It was my fault.”

Then came the move, a two-hour drive west.

“Not that I wanted to go, I needed to go,” he said. “I had to leave to continue getting better.”

Casas is one of the swimmers most thankful that this year’s world championships, which were for a time postponed to summer 2023, were rescheduled for June in Budapest.

“It’s kind of the summer to prove yourself for the guys that didn’t make the team,” he said.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Faith Kipyegon smashes women’s 1500m world record in Florence

Faith Kipyegon

Kenyan Faith Kipyegon smashed the women’s 1500m world record, clocking 3 minutes, 49.11 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday.

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic champion and two-time world champion, took 96 hundredths of a second off Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record from 2015. Kipyegon began the day as the second-fastest woman in history at 3:50.37.

The 29-year-old was already the most decorated female miler in history, the only one with four global 1500m titles. Her Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021 were separated by a 22-month maternity leave from competition (that included 12 months without running).

Kipyegon was the eighth of nine children growing on a farm in the Kenyan Rift Valley. She was a soccer player at age 14 when she lined up for a one-kilometer run in PE class, according to World Athletics.

“I won that race by 20 meters,” Kipyegon said, according to World Athletics in 2016. “It is only then I knew I could run fast and be a good athlete.”

In 2010, a barefooted Kipyegon placed fourth in the world cross country championships junior race as, at age 16, the youngest finisher in the top 21. The next year, she won it. The year after that, she made her Olympic debut at age 18. By 2015, Jenny Simpson, arguably the best American miler in history, had a nickname for her: “The Sniper,” for her ability to run people down in the final lap.

After the pacers dropped out, Kipyegon ran the last lap on Friday in 58.87 seconds.

Next year, Kipyegon can become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track race three times, joining Usain Bolt. She said last year that she may shift to the 5000m after the 2024 Paris Games, according to Olympics.com.

Also in Florence, world champion Fred Kerley extended a year-plus win streak in the men’s 100m, prevailing in 9.94 seconds over Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala (10.04) and American Trayvon Bromell (10.09).

Full meet results are here.

Earlier, Dutchwoman Femke Bol won the 400m hurdles in 52.43 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded this early in a year. Bol, the Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist, is the world’s fastest this year by eight tenths of a second. World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has yet to race this outdoor season and could bypass the 400m hurdles entirely for the flat 400m.

Erriyon Knighton, a 19-year-old American, took the 200m in 19.89 seconds to rank third in the world this year. Knighton may be the favorite at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships given Noah Lyles, who won the 2022 World title in an American record 19.31, has a bye into August’s worlds as defending champion.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 13.04 seconds. Holloway, the world’s fastest man this year at 13.01, outsprinted Devon Allen, the world’s fastest man in 2022, in two Diamond League head-to-heads this week.

Spain’s Mohamed Katir won the 5000m in 12:52.09, edging Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha by three hundredths. Woody Kincaid (12:54.40) and Joe Klecker (12:55.16) ran personal bests to move into Nos. 3 and 4 on the U.S. all-time list behind Grant Fisher and Bernard Lagat.

Olympic champion Valarie Allman won the discus in her first matchup with China’s Feng Bin since Feng won the world title last July. Allman, who has the world’s top nine throws this year, prevailed with a 65.96-meter toss, five centimeters farther than Feng.

Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won a pole vault that included the top five women from last August’s worlds. Moon cleared 4.71 meters and has the world’s top clearance this season of 4.81.

American JuVaughn Harrison earned his second Diamond League high jump win this season by clearing 2.32 meters, just as he did in Doha last month.

Italian Larissa Iapichino was the surprise long jump winner, going 6.79 meters. She beat a field that included Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, who was fifth. Jamaican Ackelia Smith, a University of Texas sophomore, remains best in the world this year at 7.08 meters.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Paris next Friday, live on Peacock. McLaughlin-Levrone is scheduled to make her outdoor season debut in the flat 400m, an event she is also expected to contest at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. If McLaughlin-Levrone finishes in the top three at USATF Outdoors, she will choose either the 400m or the 400m hurdles to race at August’s world championships, her coach said last month.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

1 Comment

At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw