Estimated reading time 3 minutes 3 Min

Record-breaking Matthew Fallon leads young contingent on U.S. men’s Olympic swim team

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Matthew Fallon’s record-breaking swim at the U.S. Olympic trials put him squarely in spotlight as he heads to Paris later this summer.

20 June 2024
20 June 2024

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Matthew Fallon’s record-breaking swim at the U.S. Olympic trials put him squarely in spotlight as he heads to Paris later this summer.

Teenager Thomas Heilman is still trying to ignore the comparisons with Michael Phelps.

Now they’re teaming up to give the American men a whole new look.

Fallon qualified for his first Olympic Team by breaking Josh Prenot’s 8-year-old American record by nearly three-quarters of a second in the 200-meter breaststroke while the 17-year-old Heilman won the 200 butterfly to become the youngest male U.S. swimmer on the Olympic roster since Michael Phelps did it in 2000 as a 15-year-old.

“I know I've had it in me this entire time. I just wanted to really be able to get out and do it on the biggest stage," Fallon said after beating Josh Matheny to the wall in 2 minutes, 6.54 seconds. "Having two young guys qualified in an event that's typically considered an old guy's event, I think you're definitely seeing a little bit of the changing of the guard."

Fallon may be understating it just a bit.

Heilman became the second swimmer in two nights to hold the title of youngest qualifier by supplanting 18-year-old Luke Whitlock, who finished second in the 800 freestyle behind defending Olympic champ Bobby Finke.

Whitlock also broke Phelps age-group record for 17- and 18-year-olds during the 400 freestyle prelims Saturday, but his qualification swim Tuesday night upstaged Saturday night’s other breakthrough moment for Aaron Shackell, another Indianapolis-area teenager. Shackell won’t turn 19 until December.

Yes, an American team that was long dominated by names such as Phelps and Ryan Lochte and even Caeleb Dressel are suddenly giving way to a new generation of potential stars.

"I try not to think about it. I try not to worry about those comparisons too much," Heilman said, referring to the scuttlebutt about him possibly emerging as the next Phelps. "But, honestly the people around me keep me grounded. Obviously, it starts with my family and then my teammates and coaches do a great job of not trying to make me out to be anything special.”

It’s not just that these are the young guns of American men’s swimming, either.

While Whitlock plans to attend one college swimming power, Florida, in the fall, and Matheny hails from another prominent program, Indiana, Fallon is the first American Olympic swimmer to come out of the University of Pennsylvania. Chris Guiliano, age 20, also became the first Olympic swimmer from Notre Dame earlier this week by finishing second in the 200 free relay team Monday night and won the 100 freestyle Wednesday.

As for Heilman, he will try to help the University of Virginia men’s program match the recent success its women’s program has had - starting in 2025.

For now, each of these young Olympians has more immediate goals.

"I don’t really know what some of the best swimmers in the world have in store for the Olympics," Fallon said. "I just feel some of them haven’t really put all their cards out there yet, but we’ll see what happens."


AP Summer Olympics: