Matthew Fallon certainly turned heads with his appearance at the NCAA Division I Championships last spring and the 2020 Olympic Trials the year before. But this summer, he grabbed attention with a performance that crowned him as the growing phenom who was just starting to fit into his best shape.
“I would say I focused on improving my overall skills,” Fallon said. “Separating the kick and the pull a bit was something small that I put into my training, which I think helps in the long run. But this summer it was just about improving and pulling based on what I had done earlier in the year.
With months to come until the start of the winter season with Penn, Fallon is letting her highest standards set.
“My goal is always to just get better. I kind of set myself goals as they come,” Fallon said. “I haven’t set any goals for the season yet. Right now, I’m just working on getting even better.
Fallon competed at the annual Phillips 66 Nationals in Irvine, Calif., where he won first place in the 200-meter breaststroke. Against a field of seven other competitors – all but one older than him – the second-rising student emerged victorious with a time of 2:07.91, good for No. 7 all-time in state history. -United.
His best result is another addition to Fallon’s already impressive list of accolades in the 200 breaststroke this year, having earned first-team All-American honors at the NCAA Division I championships – something none Quaker hadn’t done since Mark Andrew in 2019 — and a conference title at the Ivy League Championships.
But before imprinting her name on national view, Fallon went through the learning curve of adapting to college-level swimming like any student-athlete would.
” The whole team [was] training at such a high level,” he said. “[Penn] made me realize it was a step up from my home.
A native of Warren, NJ, who honed his skills at the Pingry School, Fallon set the YMCA national record in the 400m individual medley, won YMCA national championships in three events and finished eighth in the 200 breaststroke at the trials. 2020 Olympics – the best result ever for someone 18 or younger.
Behind these achievements is the diligence and patience needed to adapt.
“I gained confidence in the first two months of the season when I knew I was going to be able to handle training,” he said.
In Fallon’s first meet with Penn, a November double meet against Columbia, Fallon finished first in the 100m breaststroke and 200 IM, and second in the 500m freestyle.
Fallon continued to impress as the season progressed. Podiums became a habit and he continued to gain seconds in his 100 breaststroke between the Columbia meet and the Ivy League Championships in late February.
However, during the season, one highlight particularly stands out. At the December Zippy Invitational in Akron, Ohio, Fallon set the Penn program record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 51.45.
At the Ivy Championships, Fallon finished second in the 100 breaststroke and first in the 200 breaststroke, helping the Quakers take third place at the meet.
The following month, Fallon qualified for the NCAA Division I championships in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. In the former, his 10th-place finish was enough for an honorable mention All-American, but in the latter, his third-place finish in 1:49.16 earned Fallon first-team All-American honors.
For much of the summer, Fallon was packed away from Penn to train in Georgia with the Athens Bulldogs swim club. Fallon enjoyed the new surroundings, especially as he experienced a contrasting method from Penn, and was able to develop his strengths. Specifically, he noted Penn’s emphasis on power and volume, compared to a greater emphasis on pace and technique in Georgia.
Fallon competed in several meets this summer — including the GA ABSC Bulldog Summer Invitational and the Georgia LC Senior State Championship — both of which led to the Nationals, where Fallon picked up a win.
Even after bagging several national-level successes, Fallon is looking forward to returning to Penn in the fall, where he will continue his competition representing the Rouge et Bleu.
“I’m excited to see everyone again when I return to campus,” he said. “I’m excited to spend another year working with the Penn swim team and building on the success that not only I had last year, but we had as a team.”