Transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas continues dominance with two more wins

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Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas looks on as she huddles with her teammates during a swim meet on January 8, 2022. AP

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University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas continued to dominate the competition Saturday, winning two races in a meet against Ivy League rival Harvard University.

Thomas, 22, won the women’s 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle races at the meet, held just days after USA Swimming announced it will release a new policy for “elite” transgender athletes.

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Thomas finished first in her 100-yard race in 50.55 seconds with her closest competitor coming in at 51.51. In the 200-yard race, she won in 1:47.08 with the second place swimmer finishing behind at 1:48.44, according to listed results.

Thomas, who previously swam for UPenn’s men’s team for three years before transitioning, made a name for herself breaking school and national records this year, prompting the NCAA to review its guidelines for transgender athletes.

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Thomas has qualified to compete in March at the 2022 NCAA swimming and diving championships, where she is set to race in the women’s 200-yard, 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle.

swimming, transgender, university of pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas continued to dominate her competition on Saturday, winning two races in a meet against Ivy League rival Harvard University on January 22, 2022.

AP

The NCAA Board of Governors approved new guidelines on Wednesday that said transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for the sport’s national governing body, subject to review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the Board of Governors.

The new NCAA regulations require Thomas and transgender student-athletes to document testosterone levels, which must meet sport-specific levels, four weeks before their sport’s championship selections.

USA Swimming, swimming’s national governing body, said in a statement released on social media on Thursday that it will determine whether transgender male and female athletes can compete against those who are biologically male or female.

swimming, transgender, university of pennsylvania

Lia Thomas swims for the University of Pennsylvania at an Ivy League swim meet against Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 22, 2022.

AFP via Getty Images

The organization, which oversees over 360,000 coaches, volunteers and swimmers from young age groups up to the Olympic level.

“USA Swimming firmly believes in inclusivity and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression. We also strongly believe in competitive equity, and, like many, are doing our best to learn and educate ourselves on the appropriate balance in this space,” the organization said.

Cynthia Millen, who had officiated USA Swimming meets for three decades, stepped down ahead of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Championships in Greensboro, N.C., in December after she “told my fellow officials that I can no longer participate in a sport that allows biological men to compete against women,” she said in a statement.

swimming, transgender, university of pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas looks on in the warm-up pool during a swim meet on January 8, 2022, in Philadelphia.

AP

Penn released a statement on Thursday pledging to work with the NCAA under its new rules standards.

“Penn Athletics is aware of the NCAA’s new transgender participation policy,” the Ivy League school said Thursday in a statement. “In support of our student-athlete, Lia Thomas, we will work with the NCAA regarding her participation under the newly adopted standards for the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship.”

Thomas, who has reportedly likens herself to Jackie Robinson in her sport, lost a race earlier this month to Iszac Henig, a Yale University trans athlete who swims on the women’s team.

Former Olympic gold medalists Caitlyn Jenner and Michael Phelps have both chimed in on the controversy in recent weeks.

swimming, transgender, university of pennsylvania

Lia Thomas performs her backstroke during a swim meet against Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 22, 2022.

AFP via Getty Images

Appearing on Fox News, Jenner said “I’ve said from the beginning, biological boys should not be playing in women’s sports. We need to protect women’s sports.”

Phelp’s, appearing on CNN with Christianne Amanpour, emphasized the need for “an even playing field.”

“I believe that we all should feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sports should all be played on an even playing field,” Phelp said on CNN last week. “I don’t know what it looks like in the future. It’s hard. It’s very complicated and this is my sport, this has been my sport my whole entire career, and honestly the one thing I would love is everybody being able to compete on an even playing field.”

With Post wires

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