Lia Thomas, a transgender woman swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania, won the 200-yard freestyle race at the Ivy League women’s swimming and diving championships on Friday in a minute and 43.12 seconds, setting a new Ivy record.
Her next closest competitor, Harvard’s Samantha Shelton, finished in 1:45.82, followed by Harvard’s Molly Hamlin in third. After winning, Thomas shook hands with both.
The win came a day after Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle in 4 minutes and 37.32 seconds, beating her next closest competitor by 7.5 seconds.
The time was a pool record for Blodgett Pool at Harvard but was a few seconds slower than her time at the Zippy Invitational in Ohio in December, in which she set the fastest times of the NCAA season in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyles. With those times, she qualified to compete at NCAA Nationals in March in Atlanta.
She is also expected to compete in either the 100-yard freestyle or the 1,650-yard freestyle on Saturday.
A fifth-year senior who previously competed for the Penn men’s swimming team, Thomas began transitioning genders about 2 and a half years ago.
Her dominance in the pool has raised questions about the NCAA’s policies toward transgender women athletes and the proper balance between inclusion and fairness.
For over a decade, the NCAA has required transgender women to be on testosterone suppression treatment for a year before they are allowed to compete on the women’s team.
In January, the NCAA said it would change its rules to match each sport’s national governing body, but when USA Swimming released a set of stricter guidelines, the NCAA said it would not institute those rules until after the season, paving the way for Thomas to compete in the national championships.