Transgender UPenn Swimmer Lia Thomas Sets Pool Record, Wins Women’s Title  

Photo by Marcus Ng on Unsplash

Transgender college swimmer Lia Thomas, who has faced controversy following success after switching from the men’s team to the women’s team at the University of Pennsylvania, has posted another record time and taken a women’s title at the Ivy League Championships.

On Thursday, Thomas swam the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4 minutes, 37:32 seconds, the shortest time ever recorded for the event in Harvard’s Blodgett Pool, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In second place was UPenn swimmer Catherine Buroker, who posted a time of 4 minutes, 44:83 seconds and in third, the event’s defending Ivy League champion, Ellie Marquardt of Princeton, who posted 4 minutes 46:63.

The Inquirer notes that 22-year-old Thomas, who competed for three seasons on the men’s team before transitioning, entered the championship with the top speed in three events, “the 200-yard, 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle” and also holds “the fastest times in the country among NCAA women in the 200 and 500 freestyle.”

The NCAA has faced criticism for rules that allow sports to use their own discretion when it comes to allowing biologically male athletes to compete against female athletes.

Thomas has become somewhat of a poster child in the debate surrounding women’s athletics, with some of her teammates anonymously speaking to media about how their concerns about “awkward” locker room interactions and the displacement of team members by Thomas’ success have gone unheard by coaches they say are only interested in winning.

In an anonymous letter penned by several of Thomas’ teammates earlier this month, the swimmers called on their school to respect USA Swimming rules that would protect biologically female athletes from being robbed opportunities by swimmers like Thomas.

Thomas’ win on Thursday was met with cynicism by many on Twitter who took the opportunity to highlight the need to protect women’s and girls’ sports and highlight the unfair disadvantages many say transgender athletes who transition and join women’s teams enjoy.

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