Lia Thomas Wins 500 Freestyle at the NCAA Championships
Transgender Penn swimmer Lia Thomas setting more records out here while becoming a national champion:
— Penn Swimming & Diving (@PennSwimDive) March 17, 2022
Most of the reporting on the Thomas story has been done by Outkick, Fox News, and other conservative outlets. It was largely untouched by Philadelphia media initially, then the Inquirer started following and reporting on Thomas races. I think the topic is so controversial and toxic that local news didn’t even know how to approach it, or didn’t want to, but the bottom line is that there’s obviously an unfair playing field here. Even with the testosterone suppression guidelines that are currently in place, Thomas continues to outpace the competition, so even the most level-headed and unbiased folks should be able to see that this situation continues to be fugazi.
The race began with the crowd cheering for each of the swimmers, but fans were noticeably quiet for Thomas’ introduction. Save Women’s Sports founder Beth Stelzer draped a vinyl banner with the organization’s phrase over the railing.
During the race, Thomas was alternately tested by Olympians Brooke Forde (Stanford), Erica Sullivan (Texas) and (Emma) Weyant. Thomas led early, but was passed by Sullivan and trailed for most of the first half of the race. Thomas and Weyant went stroke-for-stroke in the back half of the race, but Thomas pulled away over the final 150 yards to win her first national championship.
As she stood on the podium with her trophy, she flashed a peace sign, just as she did for her four Ivy League championships. And once again, the crowd was noticeably quiet as she was announced as the champion.
Concerned Women for America announced Thursday that the organization filed a Title IX complaint against the University of Pennsylvania. CWA contends that Penn is violating Title IX by allowing Thomas to compete on the women’s team.
The Thomas saga has been taking place over the course of a few months now. She used to compete for Penn’s men’s team, then transitioned and was ruled eligible to swim for the women’s team after meeting the NCAA criteria for testosterone suppression. When the controversy began to expand and national media outlets picked it up, the NCAA changed their rules, instead shifting guidelines for participation to individual sports’ national governing bodies. USA Swimming then updated their guidelines, which did not affect Thomas, because she is considered an amateur and not an “elite” athlete per the organization’s definition.
As long as this current rule set is in place, there’s nothing barring her from competing.
The interesting thing is that most dissenting teammates and opponents have done so anonymously because they are fearful of retribution of being cancelled or whatever you want to call it, but this swimmer went on camera with her take:
A big mess. Responsible adults with brains need to fix it. Thomas has every right to be herself and compete at some level, but we’ve made a mockery of the integrity of the women’s side of the competition. And this sentiment is not just coming from conservative men, it’s coming from organizations that support women’s rights and it’s coming from famous female athletes like Martina Navratilova. There’s a fair solution in here somewhere, so let’s step it up and figure it out.