University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas kept up her winning ways at Saturday’s home meet, capturing her two best events but, in an ironic twist, losing a third race to a Yale swimmer who’s transitioning from female to male.
Penn Athletics reported that the 22-year-old Thomas, who joined the women’s team this year after three years on the men’s side, won the women’s 200- and 500-yard freestyle events, posting solid but not spectacular times. She holds the NCAA’s best times this year at both distances.
Thomas is less proficient in the 100 freestyle, and it showed Saturday at Sheerr Pool in Philadelphia: She lost to Yale senior Izzi Henig, who continues to swim on the women’s team even though he identifies as male.
The result was not a surprise: Henig holds the 10th best time in the nation in the women’s 100 at 48:03, while Thomas has the 95th best time at 49:42, as shown on the NCAA website.
Penn and Thomas also lost to Yale and Henig in the 400 freestyle relay, according to the [U.K.] DailyMail.com.
Henig told the New York Times last year that he has not taken hormones so that he could stay on the women’s team. Henig has apparently undergone “top surgery,” meaning he had his breasts removed, as shown in a photo on his Instagram account.
SEE ALSO: Ivy League backs transgender swimming champ Lia Thomas, condemns ‘transphobia’
“As a student athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position,” Henig said in the June article. “I could start hormones to align more with myself, or wait, transition socially, and keep competing on a women’s swim team. I decided on the latter.”
It’s unlikely Henig would have enjoyed the same success competing against men. Henig’s best time in the 100 freestyle, good enough to make the top 10 on the women’s side, is more than a second slower than this year’s 1,130th-best Division I men’s time of 46:54.
Meanwhile, Thomas won the 200 freestyle Saturday with a time of 1:48.73, behind her best-in-the-nation 1:41.93 at last month’s Zippy Invitational. Her time in the 500 was 4:57.20, slower than her nation’s best 4:34.06.
Most spectators were not permitted to attend the event due to COVID-19 restrictions, but one parent told the DailyMail.com that it looked as if Thomas “didn’t even try. She looked very relaxed.”
Thomas is considered a favorite in both the 200 and 500 at the NCAA Division I championships in March, fueling speculation that she could make a run at records held by Olympic greats Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin.
The University of Pennsylvania senior has touched off an uproar over the fairness of allowing male-born athletes in women’s sports as she smashes program, pool and meet records.
Both the Ivy League and Penn issued statements Thursday in support of Thomas, who has undergone a year of testosterone suppression in compliance with NCAA rules, a standard that critics decry as woefully inadequate.
Penn’s next meet is Jan. 22 at Harvard.