After an exciting postseason for Penn men’s swimming and diving, with junior breaststroker/individual medley specialist Matt Fallon’s appearance at the 2023 World Championships, the Quakers now turn their attention to the upcoming campaign that opens with an away meet against Columbia on Nov. 3.
Of course, Fallon will be one to watch this winter, especially with this season preceding the 2024 Olympic Trials in June, where Fallon is a top contender for the United States Olympic team in the 200-meter breaststroke. On top of his many collegiate accolades, including two Ivy League records and a NCAA bronze medal, the U.S. National Team member added a bronze medal to his collection following his international stage debut at the World Championships this past summer.
Notably, last season, Fallon performed less than ideally at the Ivy Championships and was absent from NCAA Championships due to an in-practice injury, so the Warren, N.J. native will look to rebound and significantly improve on his championship performance this year — hopefully more closely resembling his impressive freshman campaign. During the regular meet season last year, Fallon consistently finished in first or second in the 100 breast, 200 breast, and 200 individual medley, which will certainly help the Red and Blue build momentum in improving last season's overall 5-4-1 and conference 2-4-1 records.
Other top returners include seniors breast/IM specialist Jason Schreiber, butterfly/breast/IM specialist Ben Feldman, and IM specialist Kevin Keil. The Red and Blue’s breaststroke group is deep, as Scheiber has appeared in the finals of Ivy League Championships in the 200 breast each of the past two years. Fallon and Schreiber will look to create a breaststroke force to be reckoned with throughout the regular meet season, and eye conference championship podium spots come March.
Similar to Schreiber, Feldman is a consistent finalist at the Ivy Championships, having advanced to the finals in all three of his individual events last season, which included the 50 and 100 freestyle, and the 100 fly. In the 50 free, he finished in ninth and earned a NCAA B-cut time. In addition, the Stamford, C.T. native was a key leg on the 4x50 and 4x100 freestyle relays. He, too, will look to break onto the Ivy podium for the first time in this year's run.
At last year's Ivy Championships, Keil finished sixth in the 400 individual medley, and his finish during prelims of that event earned not only a personal best, but a NCAA B-cut time as well. Although mainly swimming IM events at big meets, Keil has also been building his distance freestyle experience. Last season, Keil swam the 1650 free at the Zippy Invitational, finishing in the top five. Months later, at the 2023 Ivy Championships, he swam to an 11th place, NCAA B-cut finish in the 1650 free — an event he didn’t even qualify for in 2022.
With a majority of top returners being seniors, the Quakers also have impressive talent joining the roster this year, headlined by freshmen Liam Campbell and Robert Melsom.
Campbell's versatility extends to free, back, and fly races, but his most impressive times are in free events. Campbell comes to Penn with best times of 19.92 and 44.32 in the 50 and 100 free respectively. The freshman will be key to rebuilding the frequent sprint free relay legs now-graduated Jack Hamilton and Mark McCrary once made up.
Like Campbell, Melsom is versatile, specializing in free and individual medley events. The freshman's most impressive time comes in the 1650 free, where he’s already just four seconds over the NCAA B-cut. He'll likely join Keil in keeping the Quakers competitive in their distance free events.
On the diving side, the Red and Blue’s top finishers at last year's Ivy Championships return, including junior Cody Hopkins and senior Jack Williams. After an optimistic showing at the NCAA qualifying meet, Williams is looking to build up to a NCAA berth this season.
The season looks to be an interesting one with so many individual storylines to follow, the first of which begins to take shape next week at the team’s season opener in New York against Columbia.