On November 20, a University of Pennsylvania swimmer competed and dominated the competition. The swimmer previously spent three years swimming for the men’s team before switching to the women’s team.
The senior swimmer is Lia Thomas, formerly known as Will Thomas. During the meet against Cornell and Princeton Universities, Thomas broke multiple schools and conference records.
According to Swim Swam:
“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 relays in a tri-meet against Princeton and Cornel.”
Thomas’s time in the 200-meter free was the second-fastest women’s 200 free time in the country this season. Thomas’s free time would have scored in the A final at the 2021 NCAA Championships.
In early November, in a meet against Columbia, it was reported, “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.”
Penn Athletics reports that Thomas’s scores were much less dominant during his freshman, sophomore, and junior year competitions. Thomas was competing on the men’s swim team for those three years.
Thomas co-chairs the university’s Penn Non-Cis club. The club’s goal is to build a community for non-cisgender and transgender people. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Thomas took a year off before returning to compete in the 2021 season as a female.
Earlier this year, Thomas recounted:
“The process of coming out as being trans and continuing to swim was a lot of uncertainty and unknown around an area that’s usually really solid…Was I going to keep swimming? What did that look like? Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding.”
The NCAA’s policy does allow athletes to compete on teams not matching their biological sex at birth. The policy allows a trans female athlete to still compete on a men’s team while being treated with testosterone suppression medication. Their policy also states that a trans female cannot compete on a women’s only team until they’ve completed one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.