WEATHER WATCH
Trans collegiate swimmer breaks women's records after competing as male for three seasons
After transitioning, transgender collegiate swimmer breaks records, wins events (Swimming pool by Tomasz Zajda via EyeEm via Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (TND) — A transgender swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania who used to compete as a male is breaking university records and winning events in women's swimming following her transition.

Lia Thomas, who previously competed for the university men's team as Will Thomas, recently competed in a tri-meet with teams from Princeton and Cornell on Nov. 20.

According to Swimswam.com, a website dedicated to covering collegiate swimming, Thomas "blasted the number one 200 free time and the second-fastest 500 free time in the nation... breaking Penn program records in both events. She swept the 100-200-500 free individual events and contributed to the first-place 400 free relay in a tri-meet against Princeton and Cornell in her home pool."

Swimswam reports Thomas' time for the "200 free" race would have scored her a podium spot in the 2021 NCAA Championships.

“Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding,” said Thomas in an interview with the university's student newspaper, Penn Today. 

According to the NCAA's "transgender policy", a transgender female athlete who has undergone a year of testosterone suppression treatment is allowed to compete on women's teams.

Thomas' record-breaking numbers have prompted pushback from critics, who argue Thomas has an unfair advantage compared to her current competition.

"I say abolish gender based sports. Let men and women compete against each other in every sport. When female athletes fall by the wayside, they’ll have no one to blame," said Twitter user Jason Warrick.

Dr. Emma Hilton, a developmental biologist at the University of Manchester, conducted a data analysis of Thomas' performances and concluded Thomas' finish time is "extraordinary" compared to the average female finish time.

When competing as "Will Thomas" on the University of Pennsylvania's men's team, Thomas was an "Ivy League Championships qualifier in 500 free" in the 2017-18 season, "Second-team All-Ivy in the 500 free, 1,000 free, and 1,650 free, after reaching the ‘A’ final of the Ivy League Championships and finishing second overall in each of the events," in the 2018-2019 season, and "Competed in four of Penn’s eight regular season events, Won the 500 free against Villanova (Nov. 15)" in the 2019-2020 season, according to university records.

University records also say Thomas did not compete in the 2020-2021 season as all events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thomas is competing on the university's women's team for the 2021-2022 season, and last competed on the men's team in November 2019.

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