Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas was supported by University of Pennsylvania teammate Andie Myers as she became an Ivy League champion.
The 22-year-old Thomas won the women’s 500-year freestyle race at the Ivy League Championships yesterday.
She triumphed in 4 mins 37.32 secs, the best time ever recorded in the event at Harvard University’s Blodgett Pool.
Thomas was supported by Myers, who wore a transgender flag facemask during the competition.
“I want everyone at this meet to know that I support her,” Myers told ESPN. “She’s worked for all of this and she’s given up so much to transition and to be authentically herself.
“I think it’s really important and I think it’s really brave what she’s doing today.”
It was confirmed last week that Thomas would be able to compete at the Ivy Championships, despite a recent change in USA Swimming and the NCAA’s regulations on transgender athletes.
To compete, elite athletes will have to provide evidence that their prior physical development as a male does not give them a competitive advantage over their cisgender female competitors.
Athletes will also have to provide evidence that their testosterone level has been less than 5 nmol/L continuously for a period of at least 36 months.
It has been reported that Thomas started to transition in May 2019, meaning she currently falls under the USA Swimming’s testosterone level threshold by around four months.
But the NCAA revealed it would not implement the new policy until the 2022 NCAA Winter Championships.
Following her victory in the women’s 500-yard freestyle, Thomas will swim in the 200 freestyle today and either the 1,650- or 100-yard freestyle on Saturday.
Myers is not the only athlete to offer support to Thomas – more than 300 current and former NCAA, Team USA and international swimmers and divers signed a letter published by Athlete Ally last week.
The letter publicly expresses support for Thomas, and calls on the NCAA to not adopt mid-season USA’s Swimming updated policy on transgender athletes and establish “clear and consistent” eligibilty polices instead.
In addition, Thomas is not the only transgender swimmer to be competing at the Ivy League Championships.
Yale University’s Iszac Henig, who is transitioning from female to male while competing as a woman, won gold in the 50-yard freestyle.
Henig has not yet begun hormone therapy so remains eligible to swim on the women’s team.