Transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas wins the 100m AND 200m freestyle races against Harvard days after USA Swimming said it would release new policy on whether 'elite trans athletes' will still be able to compete against biological women

  • Transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, 22, won two of her races on Saturday although her win's were by narrower margins than of late
  • Her previous wins sparked controversy having smashed several women's records in the pool 
  • She broke two national women's records last month at the Zippy International in Akron, Ohio 
  • NCAA rules on transgender athletes returned to the forefront when Thomas started smashing records last year 
  • Under new guidelines, transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for the sport's national governing body
  • On Thursday, USA Swimming team announced it will allow 'non-elite' athletes to compete in a way that is 'consistent with their gender identity' 
  • But it also added that a new policy would 'shortly' be released on 'elite' athlete

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Transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, 22, was back in the pool on Saturday where she continued to beat fellow swimmers, leaving them in her wake.

Competing during an NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, Thomas won the Women's 100m and Women's 200m Freestyle races, although the margin's were far narrower than in previous races she won in 2021. 

Thomas won her 100m race in 50.55 seconds with her closest competitor coming in at 51.51.

In the 200m race, she won in 1:47.08 with the second place being secured in 1:48.44. 

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas competes in the 200 meter freestyle during an NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard on Saturday

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, right, towers over her teammates as she dries off after after warming up with the team before the  NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, center, competes against Harvard's Erin Cavanagh, left, and Harvard's Felici Passadyn at the start of the women's 200 meter freestyle race during the an NCAA college swimming meet

Thomas' controversial wins saw the NCAA review its guidelines for male-to-female trans athletes on Wednesday, but the body ultimately washed its hands of the swirling row surrounding transgender athletes in college athletics. 

Under the new guidelines, approved by the NCAA Board of Governors, transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for each sport's national governing body. 

NCAA rules on transgender athletes returned to the forefront when Thomas started smashing records late last year. 

She was on the UPenn men's team during her first three years, but she is now competing on the women's team this season after transitioning.

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas speaks to her coach after winning the 200 meter freestyle during an NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard  on Saturday

Transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, 22, won two of her races on Saturday although her win's were by narrower margins than of late 

Although her previous wins sparked controversy having smashed several women's records in the pool Saturday's timings were similar to her competitors. The University of Pennsylvania says it will work with the NCAA under its newly adopted standards for transgender athletes

Last month, Thomas put in an astounding performance at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio, that saw her finish the 1,650-yard freestyle 38 seconds ahead of the next closest finisher, teammate Anna Sofia Kalandaze.

Thomas's winning time was 15:59:71, with her UPenn teammate Anna Kalandaze coming second with a time of 16:37:44. 

Thomas's win was a record for the Zippy Meet, and the pool where the event took place. But she also managed to smash two US women's swimming records during earlier races at the same event. 

The first US record was broken on December 3, when Thomas won the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 4:34:06. She raced to victory 14 seconds ahead of Kalandaze - the swimmer she beat by 38 seconds on Sunday.

The following Saturday, she won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:41:93 - seven seconds ahead of her nearest rival, giving her the fastest female US time ever for that race too.

 

USA Swimming has announced it will release a new policy 'shortly' on whether elite trans athletes like Ivy League swimmer Lia Thomas can compete against biological women

Lia Thomas, circled, is pictured in a post by UPenn Swimming and Diving, captioned: 'Ladies at the beach'

Pictured: Thomas training with the team at Sailfish Splash Waterpark in Florida earlier this month

With NCAA taking little decisive action, on Thursday USA Swimming announced it will release a new policy 'shortly' on whether elite trans athletes like Ivy League swimmer Thomas can compete against biological women.  

The organization, which oversees more than 360,000 members, released a statement Thursday after the NCAA Board of Governors said they will update their guidelines to follow the wishes of each sport's governing body.

'USA Swimming firmly believes in inclusivity and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a manner consistent with their gender identity and expression,' the statement read.

'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.'

Thomas looks on as she celebrates senior day with her teammates during a swim meet, Saturday, January 8, 2022, in Philadelphia

Currently, trans women can compete against any other female athlete if they've undergone suppression treatment for a year. But critics say that is insufficient - as evidenced by spectacular wins such as Thomas's - and that trans athletes retain considerable advantages over female rivals because of their height and musculature.   

Thomas has been blowing women's swimming records out of the water and there is even a chance she might win national championships and even compete for all-time NCAA records set by Olympic gold medalists Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.    

None of Thomas' fellow swimmers have voiced their opinion publicly on the matter, but some have spoken out anonymously to air their concerns, saying that Thomas is arrogant, her teammates are upset - and that their coach is just obsessed with winning. 

'She compares herself to Jackie Robinson. She said she is like the Jackie Robinson of trans sports,' one of Thomas' teammates told the Washington Examiner. Robinson was the first black baseball player to compete in the Major League. 

Last week, Thomas, pictured, was crushed twice in a women's swim meet by another transgender competitor who is transitioning from female to male

Thomas came out as transgender in 2019 and under NCAA rules was eligible to switch from the men's team to the women's after taking a year of testosterone suppressants

'She laughs about it and mocks the situation. Instead of caring or showing that she cares about what she's doing or what she's doing to her teammates, she's not sympathetic or empathetic at all. Lia never addressed our team. She never asked if it was OK. She never asked how we felt. She never tried to explain how she feels. She never has said anything to us as a group. She never addressed anything.' 

Despite setting three school records and two national records, Thomas shrugged off the furor in a recent interview, telling swimming news site SwimSwam: 'It's not healthy for me to read it and engage with it at all, and so I don't, and that's all I'll say on that.'

Her teammates have been less accepting of Thomas's post-transition feats, however. Days after the Zippy International, two swimmers complained anonymously to the media about a 'lack of fairness'.

'They're having to go behind the blocks knowing no matter what, they do not have the chance to win. I think that it's really getting to everyone,' one told OutKick.   

Caitlyn Jenner has said the 'woke world' is not working for women's sports and is calling on the NCAA to adjust their transgender policy for sports

 

Earlier this week, Caitlyn Jenner called on the NCAA to immediately stop transgender athletes like Thomas from competing against their biological counterparts.  

Jenner, 72, said Wednesday there was no doubt in her mind that the rules needed to be changed.

'All of this woke world that we are living in right now is not working,' said Jenner, who won a gold medal as Bruce in the men's decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Olympics before transitioning to female in 2015.

'I feel sorry for the other athletes that are out there, especially at Penn or anybody she's competing against, because in the woke world, you've got to say, 'Oh, my gosh, this is great,' No, it's not.'

Writing on Twitter, Jenner stated explicitly 'biological boys should not compete against biological boys.

She then went on Fox News stating: 'We need to protect women's sports, and the NCAA needs to make the right decision tomorrow, and I think that's probably to stop this right now, rethink it.'

Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps, 36, has reacted to the ongoing debate over trans college athlete Lia Thomas competing on women's swim team

Last week, champion swimmer Michael Phelps described the controversy as being 'very complicated' - before adding that sports need a 'level playing field' to be fair. 

Phelps, the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals, compared the issue of athletes like Thomas to doping in order to secure a competitive advantage in the pool. 

Speaking to CNN, Phelps was adamant that something needed to be done about current NCAA guidelines that allow Thomas to compete against swimmers born female - but was unable to share any specific ideas. 

'I think this leads back to the organizing committees again because it has to be a level playing field. That's something that we all need. Because that's what sports are. For me, I don't know where this is going to go. I don't know what's going to happen.' 

Phelps, who also holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals at 13, said he simply wants to see a fairness across the sport.   

'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,' he said. 

'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.'

Phelps  holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals at 13. He says he simply wants to see a fairness across the sport

Transgender athletes who have sparked controversy competing in women's sports

Trans women have sparked a firestorm of debate about their participation in women's sports. 

In June, transgender hurdler CeCe Telfer was barred from competing in the US Olympic trials after she failed to prove she could meet the testosterone requirements at the time.

The 5 nmol/L testosterone level, considered to be the highest a female-born woman would naturally have, was set by World Athletics in 2019 for members who want to join the US Olympic team to compete in women's races of distances between 400 meters and one mile. 

Transgender runner CeCe Telfer

Another American athlete, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe, travelled to the Tokyo Olympic Games as an alternative.

She became the first transgender Olympian on Team USA. She did not compete in the Olympics. 

Chelsea Wolfe BMX biker 

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard announced in August that she was retiring in the wake of her controversial appearance this summer at the Tokyo Olympics, where she failed to complete a single lift.

The 43-year-old, who transitioned in 2012, competed in the women's 87kg+ category for New Zealand but crashed out after making history as the first trans woman to compete in a solo event. But she failed to record a single valid snatch lift in Tokyo. 

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard 

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Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas wins the 100m and 200m freestyle races against Harvard

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