Engineering an Olympian: Matt Fallon’s Journey from Penn to Paris

Matt Fallon high-fives Leon Marchand after the 200-yard breaststroke at the 2024 NCAA Championships
Fallon at the 2024 NCAA Championships (Tyler Kaput/IUPUI Athletics)

This week, more than 1,000 of the country’s best swimmers have gathered in Indianapolis, the site of the U.S. Olympic Trials. Only 56 of them will make the Olympic team.

One of them may be Matthew “Matt” Fallon, a rising senior in Computer and Information Science, who also studies at Wharton. “I think Matt has a great chance to make the Olympic team,” says Mike Schnur, Lou and Rene Kozloff Head Coach of Swimming at Penn.

Last year, at the World Aquatics Championships, in Fukuoka, Japan, Fallon won a bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke, becoming the first Quaker to medal at the event.

This year, Fallon took second in the 200-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Championships, behind only Léon Marchand, the French swimmer widely viewed as the successor to Michael Phelps. (Fallon later beat Marchand in the same event at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas.)

At the Trials, Fallon will contest both the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, events in which he is ranked No. 10 and No. 1, respectively. “It would definitely be a culmination of everything I’ve done in my swimming career so far,” says Fallon of making the team.

Watch the video below to learn how data informs Fallon’s approach to swimming, and how his rigorous engineering coursework overlaps with his success in the pool.