Alex Lebed

Senior Alex Lebed is set to make his fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships in the individual medley, which is the most on the most on the team.

The last time the Gators men’s swimming and diving team competed, it captured its seventh SEC Championship in as many years, a dominant effort that placed it comfortably over runner-up Missouri.

It has been over a month since that commanding performance, however, and the Gators need to recapture the spark that surged them to display such a showing.

Only time will tell how Florida will fare.

No. 6 Florida enters the pool this week at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas, for the 2019 NCAA Championships. A humble blend of youthfulness and veteran leadership has carried them throughout the year.

Seventeen UF swimmers were invited to compete this week at the University of Texas, a diverse contingent of old and young that could bode them well.

Senior Alex Lebed is set to make his fourth appearance at the season-ending championships in the individual medley — the most on the team. He is joined by two third-timers, five second-timers, and seven fresh faces to NCAA Championship competition.

After a successful campaign that saw the Gators finish 9-1 (their only loss coming early in Austin at the hands of then-No.3 Indiana), UF is entering the most critical week of the year in stride.

Florida has already had success in Texas this season despite its loss to Indiana. A 178-175 victory over then-No.1 Texas back in October propelled a win streak that lasted the rest of the season.

The Gators also boast a team of accomplished swimmers holding numerous accolades on the year. Freshman Trey Freeman earned an SEC Swimmer of the Week honor, while Junior Maxime Rooney has two. SEC Freshman of the Week honors have been awarded twice to Freeman, and once each to Kacper Stokowski and Robert Finke.

All of the accomplishments, accolades and performances leading up to this week for the Gators cease to matter once competition begins.

But it serves them well and puts them in a quality position to capture a title come Saturday.

Follow Jack Braverman on Twitter @jack_braverman and contact him at [email protected].