A University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer has been shattering records this season by competing as a woman despite the fact that he is a man.
Now, teammates are speaking up about their frustration with the way these events have transpired.
According to the New York Post, “Lia” Thomas set multiple records last week during the Zippy Invitational at the University of Akron in Ohio.
On Friday, his 4:34.06 time in the 500-yard freestyle final set an Ivy League women’s record. His dominance continued on Saturday when his 1:41.93 time in the 200-yard freestyle gave him the fastest finish in the country.
Possibly the most stunning achievement of the weekend was Thomas’ 15:59.71 time in the 1,650-yard freestyle. The time set a program, meet and pool record, the Post reported.
It was also 38 seconds faster than his teammate, Anna Kalandadze. In an interview with Outkick, an anonymous teammate expressed frustration about consistently being beaten by a man.
“Pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this,” she said. “Our coach [Mike Schnur] just really likes winning. He’s like most coaches. I think secretly everyone just knows it’s the wrong thing to do.”
The teammate said the team has to display faux excitement for Thomas during meets to keep up team morale.
“When the whole team is together, we have to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, go Lia, that’s great, you’re amazing,'” she said. “It’s very fake.”
Before his transition, Thomas competed for two full seasons as a men’s swimmer at Penn, the Post reported. He went by the name Will Thomas.
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“The Ivy League is not a fast league for swimming, so that’s why it’s particularly ridiculous that we could potentially have an NCAA champion,” the anonymous teammate told Outkick. “That’s unheard of coming from the Ivy League.”
Outkick also reported Thomas’ fastest times competing as a man would set NCAA records in the 500-yard freestyle and 1650-yard freestyle. His career-best time in the 200-yard freestyle was just two-tenths of a second away from a women’s record.
In order to switch from men’s to women’s competition, the NCAA requires athletes to undergo “at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment.”
So far this season, Thomas’ best times in those three events have been between two and six seconds slower than his men’s career-bests. The teammate said a return to his previous form was not out of the question for Thomas.
“One year doesn’t mean anything,” she said. “What about the years of puberty as a male, the male growth you went through as a man?”
If Thomas is able to replicate the production he had while competing as a man, long-standing NCAA and even world records could be in jeopardy, the teammate said.
“On paper, if Lia Thomas gets back down to Will Thomas’ best times, those numbers are female world records,” she said.
“Faster than all the times Katie Ledecky went in college. Faster than any other Olympian you can think of. His times in three events are [female] world records.”
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