A Salute to a University of Pennsylvania Swimmer

Ivy Coach salutes Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming and diving team (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).

We typically only write about swimming on the pages of this blog when Dartmouth College cuts — and then reinstates — their swim team once every two decades or so. But today we’d like to share the story of Lia Thomas, a young woman on the University of Pennsylvania swimming and diving team who finds herself at the center of a culture war. Lia previously swam for two seasons on UPenn’s men’s swimming and diving team. She has since transitioned to a woman, completing the necessary testosterone suppression treatment mandated by the NCAA, and joined the women’s swimming and diving team — and has she been on a tear of late, shattering pool, meet, Ivy League, and program record after record.

As Jack Dutton reports for Newsweek in a piece entitled “Who Is Lia Thomas? Trans Swimmer Breaking College Records Sparks Debate,” “Thomas—who’s competing as a senior after the Ivy League establishment canceled the previous swimming season due to the pandemic—won three events and swam the fastest time in the country in two of those races. On Friday, she won the 500-yard freestyle in 4:34.06, setting a new record, Akron pool record, Penn school record, and the Ivy League record. The next day she won the 200 freestyle with a pool, meet and program record time of 1:41.93, seven seconds ahead of second place. On Sunday, Thomas won the 1,650 freestyle in a record time of 15:59.71.”

We at Ivy Coach salute Lia Thomas for continuing to compete in the sport she loves, for her courage, for living her life openly and authentically — whether everyone likes it or not. She is an inspiration to us and to the entire LGBTQ+ community in America, a community that enjoys so many of its civil rights today because of the trans activists who paved the way so Lia could one day swim for UPenn. The sport of swimming is better off because of her trailblazing. And while we’re quite certain this post will trigger some comments below, know that transphobic ones will not see sunshine.


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  • Amanda Briscoe says:

    “Pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this. 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 female Penn swimmer said during a phone interview.

    “When the whole team is together, we have to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, go Lia, that’s great, you’re amazing.’ It’s very fake,” she added.

    • Ivy Coach says:

      An anonymous person speaks for “pretty much everyone” on the team? That speaks volumes.

      • Olimpia Tran says:

        I think the female swimmer from Penn who complained about the male swimmer on her team identified herself, so Ivy Coach is not correct.

        • Ivy Coach says:

          Oh? Check again. The person quoted in the “OutKick” piece, which was picked up by several publications, was quoted anonymously.

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