Led this season by co-captains Nate Hefner '19, Kyle Aanstoots '19, and Ray Fluet '20, Big Blue has its sights set on a conference win.
Scrolling down the list of competitors in the 200-meter breaststroke prelims at USA Swimming's Winter National Championships last week—a high-caliber competition of professionals and elite college athletes alike—Pingry sophomore Matt Fallon's entry was tough to miss. Surrounded by men in their mid- to early-20s, there was Matthew, 11 seed (2:14.55), age 16, a full eight years younger than his next closest competitor, and a full nine years younger than the #1 seed, fellow Pingry swimmer-turned-professional athlete and two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier Nic Fink '11.
These two swimming phenoms, both Pingry record-setters and high-impact players for Big Blue—one current, one former—competing together in such a prestigious national event is a story unto itself. That Matthew (pictured left, below)—one of only two freshmen in the country last summer to be named an All-American in the 100-breaststroke (56.13)—gained entry as a sophomore, is yet another.
"Simply qualifying for the event is a huge achievement," said Head Coach of the Boys' Varsity Swim Team Steve Droste P '25.
Last summer, Matt smashed two meet records on his way to winning four separate titles at the YMCA National Championships, but last week's Winter National Championships, held in Greensboro, North Carolina, was his first appearance with the pros.
In total, Matt qualified for and competed in six different events: the 200 IM, 400 IM, 400 freestyle, 800 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, and 200 breaststroke. Like Nic, his best event is the 200 breaststroke.
How did he fare? The #5 seed going into the 400 IM, Matt took second in the prelims, placed sixth in the "A" final (4:30.06) beside Olympian Jay Litherland (4:20.15), and nabbed a 2020 Olympic Trials cut. In the 200 breaststroke, he took sixth in the prelims (he and Nic went 1-2 in their heat), placed seventh overall in the "A" finals (2:15.25), and earned yet another Olympic Trials cut. "He had a pretty amazing show for a kid his age," said Coach Droste.
For his part, Nic (pictured right) had a "monster meet," reported Coach Droste, winning both the 100 (1:00.18) and 200 (2:10.24) breaststroke national titles. He set a pool record in the latter, and, in both events, edged out the Olympian and American record-holder Kevin Cordes.
"To have two Pingry kids in the top eight at Nationals is pretty cool!" said Coach Droste. Indeed. Congratulations, Nic and Matt! Stay tuned for more news of the Boys' Varsity Swim Team this season, as, with the help of Matt and many other talented swimmers on the team, they look to clinch their 12 consecutive state title.
Read an article and watch a video of the finals of the 200 meter breaststroke at Winter Nationals last week.
Read about the three Pingry swimmers who competed in Winter Nationals last year.
Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, email@example.com