Trans College Swimmer Sets Two Conference Records

Trans College Swimmer Sets Two Conference Records girls competing in swim meet (Dreamstime)

By Theodore Bunker | Tuesday, 07 December 2021 01:58 PM

Lia Thomas, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania who is competing in her first season as a transgender woman according to Outsports, set two Ivy League records at the 2021 Zippy Invitational over the weekend.

Thomas won three events and set three records for the school and two for the Ivy League while competing at the University of Akron in the Zippy Invitational. She won the 500-yeard freestlye with a time of 4:34.06, breaking the Ivy League record as well as a record for the school. She went on to win the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:41.93, which is the best time in the entire country according to the school, and later the 1,650 freestyle with a time of 15:59.71, another record for the university.

Outsports notes that Thomas is the first trans woman to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s swimming since 2019, when Natalie Fahey of Southern Illinois University competed at the Missouri Valley Conference swimming championships, and that she has a strong chance of becoming the first trans student-athlete to be named Division I All-American or win an individual national chaptionship. The website reports that only one trans student-athlete, June Eastwood, has won an individual conference title in Division I, while only one trans student-athlete, CeCé Telfer, has been given the All-American designation and won an individual national championship in Division II.

Thomas has come under fire for previously competing on the men’s swimming team before transitioning. The NCAA policy on transgender student athletes, which was first established about 11 years ago, states in part that "a trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication … for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men’s team," and may compete on a women’s team after "completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment."