University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas won the 100-yard freestyle in a meet record of 47.63 seconds on Saturday at the Ivy League women’s swimming and diving championships.
This marks her third title of the competition.
Thomas, a transgender woman, narrowly beat out Yale’s Iszac Henig, a transgender man, who finished in 47.82 seconds. Princeton’s Nikki Venema took third, finishing in 48.81 seconds.
Thomas and Henig embraced in the moments after the race.
Their matchup pitted two of the best freestyle swimmers in the Ivy League against each other. Henig won the 50-yard freestyle in a pool-record 21.93 seconds on Thursday, while Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle Thursday and the 200-yard freestyle Friday.
The NCAA allows transgender male athletes to participate on the women’s team so long as they have not had hormone therapy. Transgender female athletes are required to have taken hormone replacement therapy for at least a year.
Thomas, a fifth-year senior who previously competed for the Penn men’s swimming team, began her gender transition about two and a half years ago. Prior to her transition, Thomas finished second in the 2018-19 Ivy League men’s championships in the 500-yard, 1,000-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle races but did not compete in the 100-yard freestyle.
Racing for the women’s team in December, she set the fastest times of the NCAA season in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle races, raising questions about the NCAA’s policies toward transgender women athletes and the balance between inclusion and fairness.
In January, the NCAA said it would change its rules on transgender athletes 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 at NCAA championships next month.