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'Such a Cloud Over Everything': Second UPenn Female Swimmer Opposes 'Lack of Fairness' Due to Trans Teammate

(Image credit: Thomas Park/Unsplash)

The University of Pennsylvania's transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is continuing to break female swim records during competitions despite rising tensions among teammates.

During a recent interview with sports media company, Outkick, a second female swimmer with UPenn shed light on why swimmers are "angry" over what has been perceived as "lack of fairness."

Thomas, 22, recently set a new 500 freestyle Ivy League record. Next, the swimmer set the nation's best time in 200 freestyle and then went on to set a pool record in the 1650-yard freestyle. 

Thomas finished the race at 15:59.71 – more than 38 seconds ahead of her teammate Anna Kalandadze, who placed second. 

UPenn swimmers have reportedly become agitated and emotional, knowing that Thomas was going to outpace them during the matches.

"They feel so discouraged because no matter how much work they put in it, they're going to lose," the source anonymously told Outkick. "Usually, they can get behind the blocks and know they out-trained all their competitors and they're going to win and give it all they've got."

She added, "Now they're having to go behind the blocks knowing no matter what, they do not have the chance to win. I think that it's really getting to everyone."

Before transitioning genders, Thomas competed for three seasons at Penn as a man named Will Thomas, according to the New York Post. NCAA rules require at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment in order to compete in women's events. 

According to OutKick's source, Thomas wasn't pleased with her time after the 500 race, but made sure to boast, "At least I'm still number one in the country."

"Well, obviously she's number one in the country because she's at a clear physical advantage after having gone through male puberty and getting to train with testosterone for years," the source said. "Of course you're number one in the country when you're beating a bunch of females. That's not something to brag about."

Penn's administration is backing Thomas publicly while acknowledging that she's staying on the team. The team's coach, Mike Schnur has remained out of the spotlight. 

"He is just following the NCAA rules and the situation is out of his hands," the source said. 

Critics of transgenders competing in women's sports have pointed out that while testosterone levels can be decreased, other physiological benefits possessed by individuals with male DNA are immutable, like bone structure.

The first member of Penn's swim team to speak out anonymously against Thomas said the support surrounding her was fake.

"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 said.

Penn's team will be back in the pool on Jan. 8 against Dartmouth with Thomas focused on claiming NCAA swim titles in March. 

"This is such a cloud over everything. A cloud in the locker room, especially the last few days because we all know of how things have changed in the last week," Thomas' teammate concluded. 

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