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Junior breaststroker Matthew Fallon was the runner-up in the 200-yard breaststroke event at the NCAA Division I Swimming Championships. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

With every race and every meet, 2024 proves to be the year of Matthew Fallon. 

This past weekend at the NCAA Division I Championships in Indianapolis, Fallon, junior breaststroker for Penn swimming, swam to a runner-up finish in his signature event — the 200-yard breaststroke. 

The performance represents a triumphant return to the championships after the Warren, N.J. native missed last year’s due to an injury. In 2022, then freshman, Fallon took third place in the All-American honors in the event and was the second top returning swimmer for the following year’s championships. 

Fallon rebounded quickly from his injury as during the 2023 postseason, he took home a national title in the 200-meter breaststroke and finished third at the World Championships. 

Since then, Fallon has emerged as the frontrunner for the Olympic Team in the 200-meter breaststroke and has been focusing on long-course swimming recently, but he has kept short-course collegiate swimming a priority. The U.S. national team member was undefeated in both 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke during the dual meet season. 

At the 2024 Ivies, Fallon finished first in the 200-yard breast in meet and pool record-breaking fashion. His time of 1:49:75 was, for a moment, the fastest in the NCAA until Arizona State University’s Léon Marchand swam a 1:48:60 a week later at the PAC-12 Championships. 

At the NCAAs, the 200-yard breast was on the last day of the four-day meet. During those first days, Marchand dominated his events — shattering NCAA, meet, U.S Open, and pool records in every race. He was also the two-time returning 200 breast champion. However, Fallon didn’t let the Frenchman’s performances rattle him. In the morning prelims, Fallon finished in a speedy time of 1:49.36 and secured first seed heading into the evening. 

In the evening, all eyes were on Fallon and Marchand. But in the race itself, the pair's strategies could not have been more different. Fallon is well-known for his back-half technique and closing very fast, while Marchand goes out fast while keeping a consistent stroke count to hold on until the end. 

Coming off the blocks, the duo's reaction times were nearly identical with only 0.01 seconds separating the two. Marchand, unsurprisingly, was the fastest of the field in the first 100 yards. However, Fallon’s recent front-half speed work paid off as he was third and split a 52.60 — the fastest he’s ever taken the race out. 

The World medalist made his move during the last 100 yards and closed the gap between him and Cal’s Liam Bell to finish second with a time of 1:48:48 — his first time sub-1:49 seconds. Marchand finished first and added another broken NCAA, pool, and meet record to his resume. 

Notably, Fallon wasn’t the only Ivy League swimmer in the championship final. Fellow junior Jack Kelly competed and finished eighth in the event for Brown. 

With his silver medal finish, Fallon collected numerous accolades including a new Ivy League record, All-American honors, eighth fastest performance of all-time, and third fastest performer of all-time in the 200-yard breast. 

With the collegiate season officially over, Fallon will be locked in on long-course swimming and preparing for a return to the Olympic Trials, and hopefully, he’ll leave with a ticket to the Olympic Games in Paris.