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UPenn Trans Swimmer Wins Against Harvard as Pressure Mounts in Wake of New NCAA Rules

Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas swims the 100m freestyle event at a swim meet, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

A transgender swimmer who is biologically male but identifies as female, and has been obliterating records previously held by biologically female athletes, chalked up two more victories at a swimming meet against Harvard on Saturday. It comes just a few days after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made new allowances in its transgender athlete policy.

Fox News reports University of Pennsylvania senior Lia Thomas, 22, won both the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle events. 

Thomas finished the 100m race in 50.55 seconds, with the second-place competitor in at 51.51. In the 200-yard race, Thomas won in 1:47.08, while the second-place finisher came in 1:48.44, according to the outlet. 

Before transitioning genders, Thomas competed for three seasons at UPenn 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. 

Braden Keith, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SwimSwam, told Fox News that he thinks Thomas will be able to compete in the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, March 16 - 19 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, GA. 

"Based on the new NCAA policy put out on Wednesday, there is nothing that would preclude Lia from racing in March at the NCAA Championships. There is a framework, some guidance, but nothing that anybody would recognize as a line-in-the-sand threshold," Keith said. 

"The internal pressure within the sport in the last 24 hours has ramped up on USA Swimming and FINA to make a decision, to come up with a rule or a threshold, and it's left them in kind of a tough spot - they've had this responsibility, the duty to decide what the NCAA rule is, thrust upon them when I'm sure they were hoping to be able to kick the can down the road a little while longer," he added. 

As CBN News reported, criticism against the NCAA is mounting from all sides, including parents and female athletes, as well as transgender former Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete Caitlyn Jenner and Olympic swimming icon Michael Phelps. 

UPenn teammates also have taken issue with Thomas' presence on the women's team. The teammates have reportedly become agitated and emotional, knowing that Thomas had a clear advantage and would outpace them during the matches. 

But many of the girls on the swim team are afraid to speak out because any opposition is called transphobic, one parent who remained anonymous told Fox News

The parent told the network his daughter and "a good number" of her teammates believe they will no longer be able to compete fairly with Thomas on their team.  He said there's been a lot of "crying on the pool deck" over the situation.

"They don't agree with what Lia's doing and they're really unhappy with the situation," he said. "Morale is bad."

The NCAA rule change is a "cop-out," the swimmer's father said and called for USA Swimming to toughen the rules. 

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