arena Swim of the Week: Anna Kalandadze Drops Big To Win 500 Free Ivy League Title

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Anna Kalandadze was already in the midst of a standout senior season entering the 2023 Ivy League Women’s Championships, but through the early stages of the conference meet, her campaign has gotten even better.

Kalandadze recorded a monstrous best time of 4:38.86 to win the women’s 500 freestyle on Thursday night at the conference championships, leading a 1-2-3 podium sweep for the Quakers.

Kalandadze, who joined the Cal Bears in the fall of 2019 but transferred after just a few meets in early 2020, came into her first season with Penn last year with a best time of 4:46.25 in the 500 free, set when she was in high school in March of 2018.

She then went 4:46.33 in one of her few meets with Cal in December 2019, and last season, placed fourth at the Ivy League Championships in a time of 4:47.54.

The Ardmore, Pa., native rebounded to establish a new PB of 4:44.06 at the ECAC Open Championships in late February 2022, and hit a time of 16:07.13 in the 1650 at the same meet to qualify to compete at her first NCAA Championships (she qualified in 2020 but began the transfer process prior to the meet, which was ultimately canceled).

This season, Kalandadze has been on a tear. She brought her best time down to 4:42.45 at the Zippy Invitational in December, and after clocking 4:41.77 in the Ivy League prelims on Thursday morning, knocked off another three seconds from her PB in 4:38.86 to win the conference title by nearly five seconds.

Split Comparison

Kalandadze, 2018 PIAA State Champs Kalandadze, 2022 ECAC Open Kalandadze, 2022 Zippy Invite Kalandadze, 2023 Ivies
53.81 54.36 54.08 52.76
1:51.03 (57.22) 1:51.49 (57.13) 1:51.11 (57.03) 1:48.54 (55.78)
2:49.23 (58.20) 2:49.00 (57.51) 2:48.23 (57.12) 2:45.08 (56.54)
3:48.12 (58.89) 3:46.90 (57.90) 3:45.60 (57.37) 3:42.15 (57.07)
4:46.25 (58.13) 4:44.06 (57.16) 4:42.45 (56.85) 4:38.86 (56.71)

The 21-year-old’s swim puts her more than four seconds under the NCAA cutline from last season (4:43.08), and ranks her ninth in the NCAA this season, factoring in the results from ACCs, SECs and Big Tens this week.

She also broke a Princeton pool record previously held by Harvard’s Miki Dahlke (4:40.26) from 2019.

2022-23 NCAA Rankings, Women’s 500 Freestyle

Through Feb. 17

  1. Erica Sullivan (TEX), 4:35.88
  2. Rachel Stege (UGA), 4:36.31
  3. Kristen Stege (TENN), 4:36.35
  4. Emma Weyant (FLOR), 4:37.96
  5. Deniz Ertan (GT) / Ella Nelson (UVA), 4:38.04
  6. Abby Carlson (WISC), 4:38.15
  7. Alex Walsh (UVA), 4:38.34
  8. Anna Kalandadze (PENN), 4:38.86
  9. Gan Ching Hwee (IU), 4:38.96
  10. Kate McCarville (TENN), 4:38.99

Kalandadze also set a best time in the 200 free, leading off Penn’s 800 free relay in 1:47.86 on Wednesday, and this morning, she lopped off 10 seconds in the 400 IM to qualify sixth into the 400 IM final in 4:16.72, falling just shy of the Penn School Record (4:16.14).

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1 year ago

Wow! Approaching Lia Thomas’ times

1 year ago

Some very impressive drops! Go Quakers!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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