The University of Pennsylvania swimmer maintained her dominance Saturday at the 2021 Zippy Invitational in Akron, Ohio, with a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle, setting a pool, program, and meet record with a time of 1:41.93.
“She won the race by nearly seven seconds and her time was the fastest in the country,” the Penn sports information department said in a press release.
Her record-breaking triumph came a day after she set a pool and meet record in the 500 freestyle preliminaries, then conquered more records in the final with a time of 4:34.06, beating the second-place finisher by 14.39 seconds.
“That time is currently the best in the country in the event,” the university said. “Her mark was also a new program record.”
Not supporting them are women’s sports enthusiasts who say that the participation of a male-to-female transgender athlete is unfair to female-born competitors.
“Well of course women’s records are being smashed!” tweeted Linda Blade, author of “Unsporting: How Trans Activism and Science Denial are Destroying Sport.” “Lia competed as male for first three years in #NCAA. This is not right!”
Clay Travis, founder of the right-tilting sports-and-politics site Outkick, said “it’s absurd, it’s ridiculous, it shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”
“Women should not be losing to biological men, especially biological men who were good enough to be competing on college swim teams before they decided to identify as women,” Travis said in a video post. “I can’t believe I have to say that, but it makes no sense at all.”
The 22-year-old Thomas swam on Penn’s men’s team from 2017-20 as Will Thomas, placing second in the Ivy League Championships in three freestyle events and making second-team All-Ivy in the 2018-19 season. Thomas also won the men’s 500 freestyle against Villanova in the 2019-20 season.
Since becoming a female and joining the women’s team, though, Thomas has gone from being a strong college swimmer to a dominant one.
Penn Today reported in June that “Thomas took a year off during the pandemic and will swim for the Penn women’s team in her senior year.”
“Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding,” Thomas told the outlet.
Surely, the 2021-22 season has been good for Thomas. In the Nov. 20 meet against Cornell and Princeton, she swept the 100-200-500 events and placed first as a member of the 400 freestyle relay team while adding her name to the university’s record books.