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 who speaks for “pretty much everyone” on the team 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:

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

  • Penn Swimmers says:

    Sixteen members of the University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming team sent a letter to school and Ivy League officials Thursday asking that they not take legal action challenging the NCAA’s recently updated transgender policy. That updated directive has the potential to prevent Penn swimmer Lia Thomas from competing at next month’s NCAA championships, and the letter indicates the 16 other swimmers believe their teammate should be sidelined.

    Thomas’s teammates did not identify themselves in the letter. It was sent by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist, lawyer and chief executive of Champion Women, a women’s sports advocacy organization. She said in a telephone interview that she sent the letter on the swimmers’ behalf so they could avoid retaliation; in the letter, the swimmers claim they were told “we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer” if they spoke out against Thomas’s inclusion in women’s competition. After hearing that last line, care to redact your stupidity, Ivy Coach?

  • Matt Eliezer says:

    You said “ An anonymous person speaks for “pretty much everyone” on the team? That speaks volumes.” I think your stupidity speaks volumes about not comprehending the anger ALL the team members have and consequences they would face for speaking out. You thought 1. Everyone was as sick as you AND 2. People speak out regardless of the end result. You would not speak out- you DON’T even put your own name on your own blog! COWARD!

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