Veteran University of Texas coach Eddie Reese probably summed up the NCAA Division I Men's Swimming and Diving Championship the best.
"This meet is shaping up to be a meet like I've never seen before," said the 71-year-old three-time Olympic coach, who has seen his fair share of meets during his lifetime.
"This has been the strangest year I've ever seen. It seems like almost everybody was holding back all year long for this meet. I think it's going to be one of the most exciting meets we've had. It's going to be won by a half second."
Texas, Arizona, California and Stanford share the favorites' role when the meet begins Thursday at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash.
And, it could come down to the final relay event on Saturday night.
A field of 235 swimmers from 42 teams are entered. Stanford has won eight NCAA titles and finished second ten times.
Florida State will have seven swimmers and divers competing including sophomore Paul Murray, a former American Heritage Delray Beach Swimmer of the Year and Florida Gold Coast swimmer.
Murray will compete on the 200-yard freestyle relay (school record 1:17.73) and...
400-yard freestyle relay (2:52.65). Murray will also compete in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.
Two other Florida Gold Coast swimmers will compete. Brendon Andrews, a senior at No. 10-ranked Louisville and Lake Lytal Lightning swimmer, will compete in five events (200-yard freestyle relay 1:17.74, 400-yard medley relay 3:08.84, 200-yard medley relay 1:25.97, 100-yard backstroke 46.29, and 400-yard freestyle relay, 2:52.58).
Florida freshman Carlos Omana of Miami Metro Aquatics was an added addition for the No. 8-ranked Gators in the 400-yard individual medley (3:47.41), selected off the alternate's list.
Florida is sending one of its youngest teams ever to the NCAA meet. The Gators qualified 12 swimmers and diver Mikey Lewark of Davie. Lewark is the first Gator diver in six years to qualify. Last year the Gators won two events.
"We're going to get a lot of experience here this weekend," said Gators and U.S. Olympic men's coach Gregg Troy. "This is one of the best fields ever. It's deep. A lot of new faces and I don't think it's as clearcut as you would think.
"There are four whole, complete teams then a whole bunch of the rest of us, kind of chasing. We don't have all the pieces."
Florida Gold Coast top official Jay Thomas is working the three-day meet.
The 500-yard freestyle, 200 IM, 50-yard freestyle and 1-meter springboard diving are all scheduled for Thursday.
ESPN3 will have a live stream of Friday's and Saturday's events beginning at 10 p.m. and air a tape-delay on Sunday, April 1 at 12:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
NOTES: Ohio State's Bianca Alvarez of Miami was named Big Ten Diver of the Year.
FINAL CSCAA MEN'S POLL:
1.Texas, Arizona, tie, 3. California, 4. Stanford, 5. Michigan, 6. Auburn, 7. Southern California, 8. Florida, 9. Ohio State, 10. Louisville, 11. Georgia, 12. Indiana, 13. Texas A&M, 14. Penn State, 15. Florida, State, 16. Virginia, 17. Iowa, 18. Tennessee, 19. North Carolina, 20. Minnesota, 21. Princeton, 22. Wisconsin, 23. Harvard, 24. Pursue, 25. Alabama.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
"Can I tell you how crazy my life is going to be the next 5 months?! At least 3 weeks a month on the road. Welcome to the Olympic year!"—Rowdy Gaines