Watson’s 1:57 200 IM Meet Record Helps Akron Grab Lead on Day 1 of Zippy Invite

2021 Zippy Invite

  • December 3-5, 2021
  • Ocasek Natatorium, Akron, OH
  • SCY (25 yards)
  • Day 1 Results

Team Standings


  1. Akron – 651
  2. Penn – 506
  3. Buffalo – 475
  4. Oakland – 320.5
  5. Cornell – 245
  6. Toledo – 192.5
  7. Keiser – 134
  8. Niagara – 128
  9. Clarion – 117
  10. Bloomsburg – 77


  1. Penn – 682
  2. Cornell – 514
  3. Oakland – 456
  4. Keiser – 337
  5. Clarion – 235
  6. Bloomsburg – 221
  7. Niagara – 163

The first day of the 2021 Zippy Invite was held today at the Ocasek Natatorium. Hosts Akron are currently leading the women’s standings by a comfortable margin, while Penn has established a huge early lead in the men’s meet.

Women’s Recap

Leading the way for the Zips was Sarah Watson, who broke her own meet record in the women’s 200 IM. Watson clocked a 1:57.67, lowering the record of 1:58.39, which she had set back in 2018. The swim was just over a second off Watson’s personal best, which stands at 1:56.42 from the 2021 MAC Championships. Watson put her excellent front-end speed to work tonight, splitting 24.83 on fly, and 29.66 on back, for a 54.49 on the first 100 of the race.

Watson led a 1-2 charge for Akron in the event, with freshman teammate Abby Daniel swimming a 2:00.36 to tie for 2nd with Toledo’s Lauren Kilgore. Interestingly, Oakland senior Susan LaGrand, a 2021 NCAA qualifier, scratched finals after posting the top time in prelims (1:59.61).

Sarah Watson would also go on to help Akron to a victory in the women’s 400 medley relay. Madelyn Gatrall led the Zips off in 53.45, while Andrea Fischer split 1:01.01 on breast, Paulina Nogaj 51.78 on fly, and Watson 48.63 on free, which coincidentally ties her personal best flat-start time. Akron swam a 3:34.87, winning the race handily. In fact, it was a 1-2 punch for the host team, as the Akron B squad took 2nd with a 3:37.73.

The Penn women were led by Lia Thomas, who put up another round of record-breaking swims. Thomas, a swimmer who is a transgender woman, spent the first 3 seasons of her collegiate eligibility swimming for the Penn men’s team. In prelims of the women’s 500 free this morning, Thomas clocked a 4:46.42, clipping the meet record. She then swam 12 seconds faster in finals, swimming a 4:34.06. It was a very well-paced race for Thomas, as she split 2:16.28 on the first 250, and 2:17.78 on the final 250. It was a 1-2 finish for the Quaker’s with Anna Sofia Kalandadze taking 2nd in 4:48.99.

The 500 was Penn’s single-biggest event of the night, as the Quakers posted 5th, 6th, and 8th place finishes, in addition to Thomas and Kalandadze.

Buffalo clocked a 1-2 finish of their own, with Jillian Lawton and Toni Naccarella in the 50 free. Lawton swam a 22.52, edging out Naccarella, who swam a 22.61. Akron was right behind, with Paulina Nogaj swimming a 22.66 for 3rd. Akron’s Rachel Schiffli came in 4th with a 22.94, and Lia Thomas was back in action here, taking 5th in 22.95.

Men’s Recap

Oakland’s Christian Bart clocked a huge personal best en route to winning the men’s 50 free. Bart swam a 19.60, tearing down his previous best of 19.91, and breaking the meet and pool records in the process. Bloomsburg’s Andy Thomas also broke 20 seconds, taking 2nd with a 19.87. Bart would go on to swim a 52.49 on the breast leg of Oakland’s 400 medley relay.

Penn broke the meet and pool records in the 400 medley relay, swimming a 3:10.43. Jack Hamilton led the Quakers off in 47.92, and was followed by Matthew Fallon with a blistering 51.04 breast split. Keanan Dols clocked a 47.00 on the fly leg, and William Kamps anchored in 44.47.

Matthew Fallon, a freshman, was on fire for the Quakers. Preceding his 51.0 breast split, Fallon won the men’s 200 IM, swimming a new personal best of 1:44.03. In addition to marking new pool and meet records, the time may be fast enough for Fallon to earn an invite to NCAAs this season. He was great on the back half of the race tonight, splitting a very quick 28.24 on breast, and coming home in 25.20 on free. Penn took 2nd in the race as well, with Keanan Dols swimming a 1:46.65.

Penn put up a 1-2-3 finish in the men’s 500 free, led by William Kamps, who would go on to anchor the Penn A 400 medley relay to victory. Kamps swam a 4:21.97, breaking the meet and pool records. The swim was close to Kamps’ personal best of 4:20.65, which he swam at the 2020 Ivy League Championships. Billy Fallon, the older brother of Matthew Fallon, came in 2nd in the race, swimming a 4:23.81, while Michael Foley took 3rd in 4:27.57.


Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nancy Hopf
1 year ago

I think the elephant in the room needs to be addresed. I am all for Transgender rights and the freedom to live their lives as they see fit. But this person is a biological male with all the advantages(larger heart, lungs, hands, feet etc.), which cannot be eradicated with one year of hormone injections..

1 year ago

Based on her times, 4:18 in the 500 and 14:54 in the 1650, she has the potential to break Katie Ledecky’s NCAA records in the 500 and 1650. Will she be considered the best female distance swimmer in NCAA history?

1 year ago

Still not sure how I week about Lia Thomas. I’m all for transgenders right to live a normal life but I think there needs to be more research done on the athletic advantage that could come with it. Based on her swims clearly there is an advantage she has over other female athletes.

1 year ago

Thank you for addressing the fact that the Penn Swimmer Lia Thomas previous swam with the Men’s team. That 500 Free Pool “record” time will hardly be broken for quite some time by a “biological female” swimmer. Quite disheartening for those women, especially since that time would only have placed 15th in the men’s race.

1 year ago

Lia Thomas keeps breaking records