A transgender swimmer from Penn who swam for her first three years on the men’s in the Ivy League Championships is making a buzz over the weekend and now facing major backlash for joining the women’s team.

22-years-old Lia  Thomas is a fifth-year senior and a star swimmer on the Penn women’s team who identifies herself as a transgender is now facing some bad news.

Thomas started making headlines in early December, when, at the Zippy Invitational in Akron, she set two national records in the 100, 200, and 500 freestyle events, Thomas swam a 47.63 in the 100-meter dash, a 1:43.12 in the 200-meter dash, and a 4:37.32 in the 500-meter dash. She beat her closest competitor, another Penn swimmer, in the 1,650-yard freestyle by 38 seconds. Since then, she has continued to smash records.

Although Thomas finished first in the Ivy Championships, the transgender swimmer was not the fastest in the country.

Last week, a number of other conference championships were held. No. 1 Virginia, No. 3 Tennessee, and No. 4 North Carolina were among the top teams in the CSCAA Top 25. State and Louisville, ranked No. 11 in the country, among the other contestants who competed in their conference championships last week, Thomas came in fifth place. Katherine Douglass and Gretchen Walsh, both from Virginia, were the stars of the 100 free. Douglass won the ACC Championship with a time of 46.81, while Walsh came in second with a time of 46.86. N.C. State’s Katharine Berkoff scored 46.89, while Alabama’s Morgan Scott scored 47.32.

Thomas may have a fantastic weekend, breaking several meet and pool records. The swimmer was even named the Meet’s High-Point Swimmer, however, Thomas will be against some of the top swimmers in the nation, Tran’s swimmer Lia Thomas likely eligible to compete in NCAA championships and Thomas may have difficulty in winning on her next competition.

Based on her splits in the longer races, there is reason to believe she held back, as not to draw additional attention to the fact that she is operating with a major advantage over the biological females who are her opposition.

The debate over Thomas’ participation in women’s competitions has been hot since early December when she posted nation-leading times in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle. Her story was highlighted, and multiple questions arose. How is it fair for a swimmer who underwent male puberty to race against biological females? Shouldn’t Thomas be given an opportunity to race? Obviously, there were differing opinions on the topic.

With the NCAA Championships scheduled for Atlanta next month, uncertainty remains as to whether Thomas will compete at the season-ending event. A few weeks ago, the NCAA ditched its responsibility to handle the matter, claiming it would abide by USA Swimming’s guidelines. When the governing body for the sport in the United States announced stringent rules, the NCAA backed off its initial stance and said Thomas will be able to compete if she meets a testosterone level of 10 nmols/L ahead of NCAAs.

Penn Sports did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Changing America, but a spokesman for the institution told NBC News that the athletics department is aware of the NCAA’s latest update and is “continue to work with them regarding Lia Thomas’ eligibility.”

After reviewing a recently modified USA Swimming criterion for transgender athletes in elite competition, which “acknowledges a competitive disparity in the male and female categories and the disadvantages this brings,” the NCAA decided to keep its regulation unchanged.

Trans female athletes must also prove that the concentration of testosterone in their blood has been less than 5 nanomoles per liter continuously for at least 36 months, the most stringent of any sports governing body.

NCAA last month updated its eligibility criteria for transgender athletes, adopting a sport-by-sport approach to be determined by each sport’s national or international governing body. But the new USA Swimming policy does not automatically apply to NCAA — or Ivy League — events, which are not included on its list of elite competitions.

In a news release, the NCAA said it would not be adopting the USA Swimming policy because “implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.”

Sources: Foxnews, Pressinformant, Headtopics

 

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