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01-27-23-swimming-vs-rider-samantha-turner

Penn women's swimming traveled to Athens, Georgia from March 20-23 for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Credit: Samantha Turner

A remarkable end to a remarkable Quaker career. 

Senior distance freestyler Anna Kalandadze returned to the national stage this past weekend at NCAA Division I Championships in Athens, Ga., and ended her career with the Red and Blue on a high note with a first team All-American honors and fourth place in the 1650-yard freestyle. 

This is Kalandadze’s third appearance at NCAAs, and every year, she’s improved. In 2022, she finished 42nd with a time of 16:31:04 in her first season with the Quakers after her transfer from Cal. Last year, the Ardmore, Pa. native dropped almost 40 seconds to finish 10th with a time of 15:55.60. This year, she has continued the trend by touching the wall at 15:47:86 for fourth place — notably beating out 2020 Olympians Erica Sullivan and Emma Weyant. The swim also lowered her program and Ivy League records. 

Her spectacular performance at the end of this season came as no surprise to coach Mike Schnur. 

“The race was so perfect. All three of her 500s hundreds were identical, and you can't be can't do that unless you work really, really hard all year," Schnur said. "She spent a lot of time this year training with our men's team where she was just as good as they were.” 

The swim was a testament to Kalandadze’s hard work and perseverance throughout this season and over the years, especially through her negative experience at Cal that led her to almost quit swimming. 

“She shows the other women that making the sacrifice, day after day, month after month can lead to great things at the end of the season. She is an example of how sacrifices made all year long with social life and everything else for your sport pay off and amazing things can happen," Schnur said. "It was awesome to watch everything come to fruition for her.”

Kalandadze was not the only Quaker at the championships. Sophomore freestyle/individual medley specialist Anna Moehn joined her fellow distance group teammate in the 500-yard freestyle and 1650 free. 

Moehn came off a great Ivies where she finished second behind Kalandadze in the 500-yard freestyle and 1650 free. The Alton, Ill. native had a strong performance in her NCAA debut touching the wall at 4:46.60 and 16:14.74 for the 500 and 1650 free — times just off her personal bests set last month. 

The Annas have headlined the dominant Quaker distance group the past two seasons — a group with a revolving door of talent in recent years including now-graduated Lia Thomas and Catherine Buroker. 

With the graduation of Kalandadze this spring, it will be exciting to see the baton passed to the remaining swimmers of the distance group next season. 

“Our distance group is a tremendous group to work with the Annas, Sydney Bergstrom, Amelia Girotto and Maggie Straley,” Schnur said. “And that group pushes each other every day. With Anna Kalandadze graduating, Anna Moehn’s going to start establishing some leadership, and I’m going to enjoy watching that over the next couple of years.”