Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas beat out a silver medal Olympian to win the 500 freestyle national championship in Atlanta, Georgia.
Thomas, a biological male living as a woman, ended the race with a season-best of 4:33.24, beating out female Virginia freshman swimmer Emma Weyant (4:34.99) and Erica Sullivan, who won a silver medal in the 1500-meter freestyle at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. Finishing fourth was Brooke Forde, who also won a silver at the Tokyo Games in a 4×200 freestyle relay race, according to Outkick.
“Thomas will be back in the pool Friday for the 200 freestyle race. Olympic hero Missy Franklin’s 2015 NCAA record of 1:39.10 is in serious jeopardy as Thomas went 1:41.93 in December,” noted the outlet.
What a big moment in the history of women's sports. pic.twitter.com/Lenyj7I8aa
— Joe Kinsey (@JoeKinseyexp) March 17, 2022
Lia Thomas just took first place at the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Women's Swimming & Diving Championships in the 500 freestyle. #SaveWomensSports pic.twitter.com/UWvDQMYHRJ
— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) March 17, 2022
Lia Thomas, who previously competed for the UPenn men’s team for three seasons as Will Thomas, became a controversial figure late last year when he dominated the competition at the Akron Zippy Invitational, smashing university records and pool records when he won the 1650 race by a whopping 38 seconds over his teammate.
Some female swimmers lamented that Thomas began boasting about the ease of his victory following the competition.
“That was so easy. I was cruising,” a female swimmer reported Thomas as saying. “At least I’m still No. 1 in the country.”
Several of Thomas’ teammates have anonymously criticized the NCAA’s policy to allow him to compete. In May, as many as 16 of Lia Thomas’ teammates penned an anonymouse letter charging that the famed UPenn transgender swimmer should be banned from competing.
“We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman. Lia has every right to live her life authentically,” the letter said.
“However, we also recognize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity,” it continued. “Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category.”
However, not all of Lia Thomas’ competitors have voiced outrage. Before the competition, Brooke Forde’s family released a letter with her blessing praising Lia Thomas as a trailblazer for social change.
“I believe that treating people with respect and dignity is more important than any trophy or record will ever be, which is why I will not have a problem racing against Lia at NCAAs this year,” the letter said.
It should be noted that Forde’s letter comes well after she had reached the pinnacle of athletic success by winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, where she competed against other women.
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