AUSTIN, Texas – Three months ago, Alabama's Kristian Gkolomeev lived in Greece. Two months ago, Arizona's Brad Tandy was ineligible for NCAA competition.
On Thursday, they shared a national title in the 50-yard freestyle at the NCAA men's swimming championships, each finishing in 18.95 seconds.
Tandy, cleared by the NCAA last month after its investigation of his year off after high school spent in South Africa training to make the country's Olympic team, held a slim lead after the first 25 yards.
But Gkolomeev, who moved to the United States in January, rallied in the final 25.
"Usually my first 25 is the strongest, so I'm kind of used to having that open water," Tandy said. "I hit (the turn) fine, I just couldn't quite get the grab to maintain my speed from the first 25. Luckily, it was a tie, so I'm pretty happy with that."
Texas, serving as this year's host, is looking for its first NCAA men's swimming title since 2010. Led by freshman Michael Dixon, who won an individual championship in the 1-meter springboard, the Longhorns, with 146 points, had a one-point lead over California after the first of three days.
"Have you ever seen a meet like this in your life? There's never been one like it," Texas coach Eddie Reese said. "If we win one here, I can turn the guys loose Saturday night and I can go home."
The Golden Bears, who won the 400 medley and 200 freestyle relays Thursday, are trying to capture their third title in four years.
"You don't get to do that too often in a sport where you put four guys together and let them go after it," Cal coach David Durden said. "Relays are fun. It was never one split or one person. It was kind of the collective group that did the job."
Florida's Marcin Cieslak won the 200 individual medley in 1:40.58. The Gators were third with 137 points.
Defending champion Michigan was fourth with 109 points, followed by Georgia with 74.
Southern California's Cristian Quintero won his first individual NCAA championship with a pool-record 4:10.02 in the 500 freestyle, an event he finished third in last year and second the year before.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press