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A transgender swimmer and senior at the University of Pennsylvania who used to compete as a man has beat two US records at her latest competition.
Last week (5 Dec), 22-year-old Lia Thomas put in an impressive display in the 1,650 yard freestyle by finishing 38 seconds ahead of her teammate Anna Sofia Kalandaze at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio.
Thomas's winning time was 15:59:71, with UPenn teammate Kalandaze coming second at 16:37:44, according to the Washington Times.
She also left rivals in the dust by winning the 500-yard freestyle, 14 seconds ahead of them, whilst also breaking another US record with a time of 4:34:06.
For three years, Thomas used to compete for the men's team prior to joining the women's squad.
Her last men's competition, as per the Daily Mail, was in November 2019.
NCAA’s rules reveal that Thomas would need to complete a minimum of one year of testosterone suppression treatment to be eligible to compete as a woman.
Thomas, who is the co-chair of UPenn club Non-Cis, has insisted that being transgender has “not affected my ability to do this sport.”
The UPenn senior told Penn Today in June: “[Swimming] is a huge part of my life and who I am. I’ve been a swimmer since I was 5 years old.
“The process of coming out as being trans and continuing to swim was a lot of uncertainty and unknown around an area that’s usually really solid.
“Realizing [sic] I was trans threw that into question. Was I going to keep swimming? What did that look like?
“Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding.”
However, the swimmer has faced backlash from some.
Linda Blade, who is a sports performance coach, took to Twitter and slammed the trans swimmer’s involvement in women’s sports.
She tweeted: “Well of course women's records are being smashed! Lia competed as male for first three years in #NCAA. This is not right!”
Someone else wrote on Twitter: "This is a 200 yard freestyle analysis of Lia Thomas, a transgender woman and US college swimmer. Lia began transition last (Covid-cancelled) season, having competed in male competition for the three previous years.
A second added: "Lia Thomas is a man who went through male puberty, & swam on men’s teams for almost his entire career."
Nine states in the US, including the likes of Texas and Florida, have decided to ban trans athletes from competing in female sports at schools.
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