Every college athlete dreams of competing for a national championship — of proving their mettle against the best their country has to offer. But for a pair of Penn swimmers, national glory is not enough. The world stage is where they belong.
Rising junior Matthew Fallon of Penn men's swimming and diving and 2023 College graduate Anna Kalandadze recently represented both their school and their nation at international competitions, with Fallon competing at the World Aquatics Championships in Japan for the United States and Kalandadze swimming for Penn at the World University Games in China. Fallon earned a bronze medal and became the first Penn swimmer to ever medal at the World Championships, while Kalandadze is set to compete during the first week of August.
Fallon’s medal-winning performance was powered by a ferocious finish, a strategy which has become something of a hallmark for the New Jersey native. After falling to last place during the first 100 meters, Fallon stormed back to finish third in 2:07.74. In the same race, China’s Qin Haiyang took gold in a world record time of 2:05.48.
Both Fallon and Kalandadze have made their mark in their time with the Red and Blue. Fallon qualified for last year’s NCAA Championships in the 200-meter breaststroke before suffering a late-season injury that prevented him from competing. He was also a first-team All-American in the 200 breast during his freshman season, and will be a strong contender for the U.S. Olympic team come next summer.
Kalandadze’s senior season was one to remember, with records and gold medals aplenty. The 1,650-meter freestyle is her calling card, an event in which she set the Ivy League record with a time of 15:53.88 to take first at the Ivy championships. She also owns the Penn program record in the 400 individual medley, and is the reigning Ancient Eight champion in the 500-meter freestyle.
Philadelphia fans have been rooting for Kalandadze and Fallon for quite some time. But now, they each have a nation of support behind them.