Penn swimmer Lia Thomas came away with wins in the 100 meter and 200-meter freestyle races against Harvard on Saturday. The victories came days after the NCAA updated its policy for transgender participation and how it will be determined on a sport-by-sport basis.
Thomas finished the 100m race in 50.55 seconds and with the second-place competitor in at 51.51. In the 200m race, Thomas won in 1:47.08, while the second-place finisher came in 1:48.44. Thomas, who was on the Penn men’s team during her first three years, joined the women’s team after transitioning.
The NCAA announced that the policy would begin with the winter championships. The NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships are set for March 16-19 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
“Based on the new NCAA policy put out on Wednesday, there is nothing that would preclude Lia from racing in March at the NCAA Championships. There is a framework, some guidance, but nothing that anybody would recognize as a line-in-the-sand threshold,” Braden Keith, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SwimSwam, told Fox News on Thursday.
LIA THOMAS’ SWIMMING FUTURE IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOLLOWING NCAA’S UPDATED TRANSGENDER PARTICIPATION POLICY
“The internal pressure within the sport in the last 24 hours has ramped up on USA Swimming and FINA to make a decision, to come up with a rule or a threshold, and it’s left them in kind of a tough spot – they’ve had this responsibility, the duty to decide what the NCAA rule is, thrust upon them, when I’m sure they were hoping to be able to kick the can down the road a little while longer.”
Last month, Thomas dominated at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio. She finished the 1,650-yard freestyle 38 seconds ahead of the next closest finisher, teammate Anna Sofia Kalandaze. Thomas’ winning time was 15:59:71, and her UPenn teammate Anna Kalandaze came in second with a time of 16:37:44.
Back on December 3, Thomas won the 500-meter freestyle with a 4:34:06 finish. She finished 14 seconds ahead of Kalandaze, to set the United States record. The next Saturday, Thomas won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:41:93, which gave her the fastest time for a female in the country.
Under the new policy announced by the NCAA, it appears Thomas will still be eligible to race this season for Penn. The Quakers have two more meets before the end of the regular season.
The Ivy League Championships are slated for Feb. 16-19, and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships are Feb. 24-27.
Penn and the Ivy League both offered support for Thomas and vowed to work with the NCAA regarding her participation for the championships.
“Penn Athletics is aware of the NCAA’s new transgender participation policy. In support of our student-athlete, Lia Thomas, we will work with the NCAA regarding her participation under the newly adopted standards for the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship,” Penn Athletics said in a statement obtained by Fox News.
The Ivy League added: “The Ivy League is aware of yesterday’s NCAA Board of Governors’ decision to update its transgender policies beginning with the 2022 NCAA Winter Championships. The league will work with the University of Pennsylvania and its other member institutions to determine the mid-year eligibility impact to any of its transgender student-athletes who might be affected by this decision and will provide an update when appropriate.”
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News