On Wednesday night, at the Ivy League Women’s Championship, the two fastest times posted in the 800-yard freestyle relay were swam by a biological male identifying as a woman and a biological female identifying as a male.
Lia Thomas, formerly known as Will Thomas, who swims for the University of Pennsylvania women’s team, swam the first leg of the race in 1:44:50, while Iszac Henig, the biological female who identifies as a male and swims for Yale University, swam the leg in 1:44:65, The Daily Mail reported.
Although they had the two fastest times, Harvard University won the race, with Yale finishing second and Penn third.
In mid-January, a young woman who is on Penn’s swim team with Thomas surmised in an interview with OutKick that Thomas and Henig colluded before the race in order for Henig to win and thus disprove the assumption that Thomas, as a biological male, could not be beaten by a biological female competitor.
The swimmer, who preferred to remain anonymous out of fear from activists, told OutKick, “Looking at [Lia’s] time, I don’t think she was trying.”
“I know they’re friends and I know they were talking before the meet. I think she let her win to prove the point that, ‘Oh see, a female-to-male beat me,’” she added.
Asked if she thought Thomas and Henig had colluded, she replied, “I do. I can’t say for sure, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I found out that was 100% true.”
OutKick noted, “In the 100 freestyle race, Henig finished with a time of 49.57; Thomas touched the wall in 52.84. During a November tri-meet with Princeton and Cornell, Thomas swam the 100 freestyle in 49.42.”
Henig protested that the first time meeting Thomas in person was at the meet itself, adding, “In the fall semester, when some of the media stuff first started to come out, I saw it and I reached out over Instagram DMs just to introduce myself and offer a word of support…That was really the only connection we had,” The Hartford Courant reported.
In early February, 16 members of the Penn Women’s Swimming Team sent a letter to the University of Pennsylvania and the Ivy League asking them to refrain from suing the NCAA over its new Athlete Inclusion Policies that would bar Thomas from participating in the NCAA championships in March. They stated, “We have been told that if we spoke out against her inclusion into women’s competitions, that we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer.”
“The group, organized by three-time Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar, sent the letter early Thursday morning asking UPenn and the Ivy League to support us as biological women’ and not engage the NCAA in legal action in an effort to challenge the new protocols,” Swim Swam reported, adding, “Hogshead-Makar says that the swimmers wrote the letter themselves, though both Hogshead-Makar, an organized group of parents, and other athletes, made edits before arriving at the final draft.”
In the letter, the swimmers noted, “Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female. If she [Thomas] were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women’s Swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete.”
Most important to us is that Lia’s inclusion with unfair biological advantages means that we have lost competitive opportunities. Some of us have lost records. But even those that swim different events than Lia or were not in contention to make the Ivy Championships, we stand by our teammates who have lost out. It has often felt like Penn, our school, our league, and the NCAA did not support us.
We have dedicated our lives to swimming. Most of us started the same time Lia did, as pre-teens. We have trained up to 20 hours a week, swimming miles, running and lifting weights. To be sidelined or beaten by someone competing with the strength, height, and lung capacity advantages that can only come with male puberty has been exceedingly difficult.
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