In November, a University of Pennsylvania swimmer who swam for the men’s team for the previous three years swam for the women’s team, dominating the competition.

Lia Thomas formerly used the name Will Thomas. Swim Swam reported on November 20 that Thomas “blasted the number one 200 free time and the second-fastest 500 free time in the nation on Saturday, breaking Penn program records in both events.” Thomas “swept the 100-200-500 free individual events and contributed to the first-place 400 free relay in a tri-meet against Princeton and Cornell,” the outlet reported.

“Thomas began the day with a 1:43.47 (24.6/26.2/26.4/26.1) to win the 200 free,” Swim Swam noted of Thomas’ dominance. “Only half a second off the NCAA A cut, it is the second-fastest women’s 200 free time in the nation so far this season, and it would have scored in the A final at 2021 NCAA Championships.”

Thomas beat teammate Bridget O’Leary  by 6.1 seconds (1:49.56). “Next, Thomas clocked a 49.42 to win the 100 free with the only sub-50,” the outlet notes. Thomas “went 4:35.06 to win the 500 free by 12.9 seconds, with Penn’s Anna Sofia Kalandadze finishing second in 4:47.93. Defending Ivy champ Ellie Marquardt of Princeton was third (4:48.64). Thomas wrapped up the day anchoring Penn’s 400 free relay with 49.01; the Quakers won by 2.4 seconds over Princeton with 3:22.70.”

Earlier in November, Swim Swam reported that at the competition between Columbia women’s swimming and diving team and Penn’s, Thomas “took home a pair of gold medals in the 200 free and 100 free with margins of 5.4 seconds and 1.3 seconds. … Thomas, who swam as Will Thomas on the Quakers’ men’s team as a freshman, sophomore, and junior, took the 2020-21 season off and is swimming with the women’s team as a senior this season.”

“Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding,” Thomas told Penn Today.

Other placements by Thomas highlighted by Swim Swam: “three first-place finishes and a second, winning the 200 free (1:46.92) and the 100 free (50.35) and contributing to the winning 200 medley relay (22.76 anchor) and runner-up 200 free relay (22.74 anchor).” Thomas’s 100 and 200 free times were “not far off the Penn women’s team’s records,” and Thomas’s 200 free ranks 9th this season in the NCAA.

Penn Athletics noted Thomas’ performances from previous years swimming for the men’s team:

2019-20: Competed in four of Penn’s eight regular season events … Won the 500 free against Villanova (Nov. 15). 2018-19: Second-team All-Ivy in the 500 free, 1,000 free, and 1,650 free after reaching the ‘A’ final of the Ivy League Championships and finishing second overall in each of the events. 2017-18: Ivy League Championships qualifier in 500 free (A final), 1000 free (A final), 1650 free (A final).
 
TOP TIMES
200 Free … 1:39.31
500 Free … 4:18.72
1,000 Free … 8:55.75
1,650 Free … 14:54.76
200 IM … 1:56.51
400 IM … 4:32.55

In defending its position that transgender athletes be allowed to compete on teams not matching their biological sex at birth, the NCAA claims:

Many people may have a stereotype that all transgender women are unusually tall and have large bones and muscles. But that is not true. A male-to-female transgender woman may be small and slight, even if she is not on hormone blockers or taking estrogen. It is important not to overgeneralize. The assumption that all male-bodied people are taller, stronger, and more highly skilled in a sport than all female-bodied people is not accurate.

The NCAA stipulates:

A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for the purposes of NCAA com- petition may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.

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