University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas won the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle and finished in fifth place in the 100-yard freestyle during the school’s tri-meet with Yale and Dartmouth.
Thomas finished about two seconds ahead of her opponents with a time of 1:48.73 in the 200 freestyle. She missed out on setting an NCAA record held by Olympian Missy Franklin, who finished the event in 1:39.10 in 2015. Thomas wasn’t as dominant as she was at the Zippy Invitational at Akron last month.
Thomas narrowly won the 500 freestyle, according to The Daily Mail.
She faced a real challenge in the 100 freestyle from Yale’s Iszac Henig, who is transitioning from female to male. Henig had a time of 49.57 seconds with Thomas finishing behind him with a time of 52.84 seconds.
Henig, who is from California and has been competing for Yale since 2018, stunned the limited spectators at the race.
"I wasn't prepared for that. Everything is messed up. I can't wrap my head around this. The NCAA needs to do something about this. They need to put science into the decision and discussion," one Penn parent told The Daily Mail.
Henig has had his breasts removed but wrote in a New York Times column in June he was not taking hormones just yet because he wanted to compete in the pool.
"As a student-athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position. I could start hormones to align more with myself, or wait, transition socially and keep competing on a women's swim team. I decided on the latter," Henig wrote.
"I value my contributions to the team and recognize that my boyhood doesn't hinge on whether there's more or less testosterone running through my veins. At least, that's what I'll try to remember when I put on the women's swimsuit for the competition and am reminded of a self I no longer feel attached to."
Henig’s specialty in the pool is freestyle and butterfly.
Thomas’ blazing pace in the pool drew scrutiny from those questioning whether transgender women should compete against biological males. Thomas received support from the Ivy League and Penn earlier in the week.
"Over the past several years, Lia and the University of Pennsylvania worked with the NCAA to follow all of the appropriate protocols in order to comply with the NCAA policy on transgender athlete participation and compete on the Penn women’s swimming and diving team. The Ivy League has adopted and applies the same NCAA policy," the conference said in a statement Thursday.
"The Ivy League reaffirms its unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes while condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form.
"The league welcomes her participation in the sport of women’s swimming and diving and looks forward to celebrating the success of all of our student-athletes throughout the season."
Penn Athletics also put out a statement.
"Penn Athletics is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes, coaches and staff, and we hold true to that commitment today and in the future," the school said.
"As a member of the NCAA, Penn is governed by the policies of the national governing body. Lia Thomas has met or exceeded all NCAA protocols over the past two years for a transgender female student-athlete to compete for a women’s team. She will continue to represent the Penn women’s swimming team in competition this season.
"We fully support all the student-athletes and coaches in our swimming and diving program and look forward to the team’s continued success this season."