Controversial transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas has won the first event at the NCAA swimming and diving finals.
If the winning continues, Thomas could become the first transgender athlete to win the national championship in division I athletics.
“Thomas on Thursday won the 500-yard freestyle event at McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, finishing roughly three seconds ahead of second place finisher Erica Sullivan, a freshman at the University of Texas and Olympic silver medalist,” The Hill reports. “Thomas, a senior on Penn’s women’s team, now advances to the 500-yard freestyle finals, which will take place later this evening. She’s also set to swim in the 200 and 100-yard freestyle events during the four-day competition.”
Thomas began competing against women after a mediocre history of competing against men for three years.
Lia Thomas comes in first place again (4th lane). Why do the other swimmers even bother? pic.twitter.com/9v1JkvV17u
— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) March 17, 2022
The biological male swimmer was allowed to participate after the NCAA said they will not adhere to new stricter guidelines for trans swimmers set in place by USA Swimming.
The org currently allows trans swimmers to compete against women if their testosterone is below 10 nanomoles per liter of blood.
The new USA Swimming policy “acknowledges a competitive difference in the male and female categories and the disadvantages this presents,” and will require trans swimmers to provide evidence that they do not have a competitive advantage over women, due to their physical development “as a male.”
“Trans female athletes must also prove that the concentration of testosterone in their blood has been less than 5 nanomoles per liter continuously for at least 36 months, the most stringent of any sports governing body,” The Hill reported.
The NCAA said in a statement that they won’t use the new guidelines because “implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.”
Thomas qualified for the women’s 200-yard, 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle events at a meet in December.
Recently, a female Penn swimmer came forward and described how team members were uncomfortable when changing in the locker room with Thomas.
“It’s definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women,” one swimmer on the team told the Daily Mail.
“It’s really upsetting because Lia doesn’t seem to care how it makes anyone else feel,” the swimmer continued. “The 35 of us are just supposed to accept being uncomfortable in our own space and locker room for, like, the feelings of one.”