- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 20, 2022

Lia Thomas did nothing to defuse the debate over transgender athletes in women’s sports with another dominant performance Saturday, winning her third race and being recognized as the top swimmer of the Ivy League championships.

The University of Pennsylvania senior took first Saturday in the 100-yard freestyle, adding to her titles in the 200 and 500 freestyle and collecting honors at the conclusion as the High-Point Swimmer of the Meet with a maximum 96 points, the Ivy League reported.

Thomas also set five individual records at the women’s championships, including pool and meet records in the 100 on her way to edging Yale’s Iszac Henig, a female-to-male transgender swimmer who continues to swim on the women’s team.

In addition, Thomas was part of the winning team in the 400 relay, which set a pool record. The Penn team placed third behind Harvard and Yale at the championships hosted by Harvard at Blodgett Pool in Boston.

Penn celebrated by tweeting: “The women finish third at the @IvyLeague Championships! Our highest finish in program history!”

Thomas’ victory laps come with debate surging over whether male-born athletes who identify as female should be allowed to participate in women’s competitive sports.

Thomas competed for three years on Penn’s men’s team before joining the women’s side for the 2021-22 season after meeting the NCAA standard of undergoing testosterone suppression for at least a year before competition.

Next for the Penn swimmer is the NCAA Division I women’s swimming championships on March 16-19 in Atlanta, where she is seen as a top contender.

The NCAA and USA Swimming both updated their rules this year on transgender eligibility in response to the outcry, but the NCAA said earlier this month that the changes would not take effect for this year’s championships.

In January, the Ivy League issued a statement in support of Thomas, reaffirming its “unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes while condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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