A trans swimmer and senior at the University of Pennsylvania, who previously spent three years competing as a man, is now crushing records in women’s events, sparking outrage amid controversy surrounding transgender athletes.
Lia Thomas, 22, formerly named Will, has competed in a number of events recently, including a tri-meet with Cornell and Princeton universities on November 20 where the senior ‘blasted’ UPenn records in the 200m and 500m freestyle – posting times that beat almost every other female swimmer across America.
With a time of 1:43:47 in the 200m freestyle, Thomas would have been in line to secure a silver medal at the NCAA Women’s Championships, while her 4:35:06 in the 500m freestyle would have been good enough to win bronze.
Speaking in June to Penn Today, the university’s newspaper, about her ability to continue competing as a trans athlete, Thomas said: ‘Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding.’
Thomas, who is co-chair of the Penn Non-Cis club, for trans and non-cisgender people, also said at the time that swimming is ‘a huge part of my life and who I am.’