Lia Thomas finishes split-second behind winner in the 200m free prelim

Controversial trans swimmer Lia Thomas wins her heat but comes SECOND overall in 200-meter free swim after finishing a split-second behind Stanford’s Taylor Ruck

  • Transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas, 22, took second place in the 200m free swim preliminary race on Friday 
  • She lost the race to Stanford swimmer Taylor Ruck by less than a second. Ruck swam a 1.41.89, while Thomas swam a 1.42.09 
  • Thursday, she took gold in the 500-yard freestyle and became the first trans-athlete to win a National Collegiate Athletic Assoc. swimming championship
  • She was met with near silence on the podium, while second place winner University of Virginia swimmer Emma Weyant was met with wild applause 
  • Thomas said she tries to ‘ignore’ the criticism and tries to stay ‘focused on my swimming’ and ‘I just try to block out everything else’   
  • The 200m free swim finals are scheduled to take place tonight  

Transgender University of Pennslyvania swimmer Lia Thomas missed out on coming first overall in the 200m free swim preliminary race by a split second Friday morning, just hours after becoming the first transgender athlete to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association swimming championship in the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday night. 

And although she placed second overall in Friday’s 200m free swim preliminary race, she will still swim in tonight’s final – giving her a shot at another NCAA championship.  

Thomas pulled in at second place with a time of 1.42.09 seconds, barely a second behind Stanford swimmer Taylor Ruck, who won the event with a time of 1.41.89 seconds. Ruck swan in a separate heat, but placed first overall.

Thomas and Ruck swam in separate heats. 

In a video from her heat, Thomas – who is in Lane 4 – can be seen swimming far ahead of other swimmers in the final lap toward the finish line. 

At first, it appeared Thomas was trailing behind University of Southern California swimmer Laticia Transom – in Lane 5 – who finished the race with a time of 1.42.93 – coming in second in the eight-person heat with Thomas, but fifth overall for the event.  

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Lia Thomas (pictured on Thursday with her first place NCAA trophy) comes in second place during the 200m free swim preliminary race on Friday

Seen swimming in Lane 4 (circled) heads farther than the nearest swimmer – University of Southern California Laticia-Leig Transom – Lane 5 (left of Thomas). Thomas won the eight-person race, pulling in second overall in the event. Transon, who placed second in th eight-person, pulled out fifth overall in the event 

Thomas swam a 1.42.09 (circled), allowing her to replace the current second-place swimmer Isabel Ivey, who swam a 1.42.24. Taylor Ruck, who swam a 1.41.89, won the entire event 

Yesterday, the swimmer said in a post-swim interview that she ‘ignores’ criticism after she was greeted with near silence from the crowd following her 500-yard win. Even her fellow winners were caught posing together on the podium with their trophies as Thomas stood off to the side on her first place podium holding her award. 

The crowd was noticeably more enthusiastic when cheering for the woman who’d come second place, Emma Weyant, of the University of Virginia, who swam 4:34.99 in the 500-yard freestyle. Thomas swam a 4.33.24. 

While Thomas was given some cheers, boos could also be heard ringing out throughout the spectator stands, as she continues to face allegations that going through male puberty has given her an unfair advantage over her rivals. 

‘I try to ignore it as much as I can, I try to focus on my swimming, what I need to do to get ready for my races, and I just try to block out everything else,’ Thomas said after the race, when asked by ESPN about the brutal response.  

‘It means the world to be here, to be with two of my best friend and teammates and be able to compete.’

Lia Thomas (left) was met with near silence on the podium after winning the 500-yard on Thursday. She is seen on the podium as second-placed Emma Weyant – who was met with wild applause – celebrates with Erica Sullivan (third) and Brooke Forde (fourth)

Weyant beams as she is applauded for her second place in Thursday’s race, with many dubbing her the ‘real winner’ 

Thomas, whose continued wins and record-breaking performances have made her the world’s most controversial athlete, also roundly defeated fellow swimmers at last month’s Ivy League championships.

The Texan, who swam for three years on the university’s men’s team before transitioning in 2019, is now the first transgender athlete to win a NCAA championship – a distinction one of Thomas’ teammates said would be dubious if achieved.

Thomas has undergone the required hormone treatment to meet the current rules for transgender athletes, but critics say her stunning performances prove that she still retains a considerable and unfair advantage.

‘It’s not necessarily an achievement in my mind,’ said one of Thomas’ teammates on UPenn’s Women’s Swim Team.

The teammate, who refused to give her name for fear of repercussions, told Fox News Digital that Thomas’s participation in D1-sanctioned women’s events has ‘completely ruined the integrity of the sport.’

THE RULES ON TRANSGENDER ATHLETES AND WHEN THEY CAN COMPETE FOR GENDER THEY ARE SWITCHING TO 

Lia Thomas started taking hormone therapy while she was still competing as a male back in May 2019. 

Under USA Swimming rules, athletes had to have recorded low levels of testosterone for 36 months to compete in the female category. 

That meant that Thomas didn’t qualify for the NCAA championship, if they followed USA Swimming rules – as they originally said they would.  

But the NCAA said that she would be allowed to compete because they were refusing to adopt the threshold this year. 

Last month, the NCAA committee said: ‘The subcommittee decided implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.’ 

It is unclear what they will do next year, however.  

She said Thomas’ achievements while on the women’s team should be taken with a grain of salt, due to the biological advantages of being born a man.

‘It’s its own distinct category because no woman is going to be as fast as a man, and here, is just completely – we’re just throwing away the definition of a record to fit into someone else’s agenda of what it should mean to them,’ she said.

‘In reality, it makes no scientific sense to do so.’

Thomas is one of more than 300 swimmers who qualified for the NCAA championships this week, after securing a trio of records at the Ivy League Championships last month in the 100, 200, and 500-yard freestyle events.

Thomas is set to compete in those same events at this week’s NCAA championships.

In two of them, she ranks first in the country.

‘It’s still just disappointing to know that the NCAA lacks the courage to do the right thing,’ said Thomas’ teammate.

The NCAA leadership decided in January to amend its policies concerning trans athletes, to allow each sport’s governing body to discern whether an athlete is eligible to compete.

Under the new guidance, Thomas was allowed by USA Swimming to compete as a woman because she has completed a year of hormone treatment. Shortly thereafter, USA Swimming announced a new requirement that transgender women must suppress their testosterone levels for three years before competing – a rule which would have seen Thomas excluded from future female competitions.

It appeared at the time that Thomas would be barred from the NCAA championships as a result, after the NCAA’s assertion that they would abide by USA Swimming rules.

But just before last month’s Ivy League competition, the NCAA backtracked on its decision, saying that instituting a new policy in the middle of the season would be unfair – allowing Thomas to compete at that competition as well as this month’s championships.

Thomas said in a post-swim interview that she tries to ‘ignore’ the criticism. She said: ‘I try to ignore it as much as I can, I try to focus on my swimming, what I need to do to get ready for my races, and I just try to block out everything else’ 

Her continued participation in women’s competition has proved deeply divisive, with former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner – who won gold in the decathlon as Bruce Jenner – among those criticizing Thomas for swimming in women’s races.

Earlier this month, a Sports Illustrated feature on Thomas revealed that about ‘half the team opposes her competing against other women.’

In the piece published March 3, sources close to Penn’s team said that out of 37 total members of the squad, only six to eight were ‘adamant supporters’ of the senior standout.

Meanwhile, roughly half of the team, author Robert Sanchez wrote, ‘opposes her competing against other women.’

The remaining members ‘have steered clear of the debate,’ Sanchez noted.

One of the opposition, the unnamed student who spoke to Fox, said that while many support Thomas and her journey as a swimmer and a person, she could not stand by a decision that would put her and other women at a disadvantage.

Martina Navratilova, who is widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time,  spoke out against Thomas being allowed to compete as an equal against women – hours before Thomas became the first transgender NCAA champion on Thursday

‘I think if Lia were to break an Olympian’s record, it would cause a lot of damage to the sport and to women, and I think it would cause more people to come out [against the guidelines], people that were afraid to speak before,’ the student said.

‘I think there’s a way where you can still be your authentic self and be who you are and swim as who you are while not competing against women,’ the student told Fox News.

Martina Navratilova thinks Lia Thomas should have and asterisk next to her name when she wins

Martina Navratilova, who is widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, has called Thomas to have an asterisk by her name when she wins women’s races. 

Navratilova said that the current rules, permitting Thomas to compete as a woman because she has completed the required year of testosterone-reduction treatment, were wrong.

‘It’s not about excluding transgender women from winning ever,’ the 65-year-old said. ‘But it is about not allowing them to win when they were not anywhere near winning as men.’

Navratilova, one of the first openly gay sportswomen, blazed a trail in the 1970s and 80s, but said Thomas’s situation was wrong.

‘You try to keep it as close as possible to what it would had been, were you born in the female biological body in the first place,’ she said. ‘And even saying that, people take exception to – biological female. People don’t even want to use those words.

‘I don’t know what else to say. Other than that.’

Source: News Nation Prime 

‘If you had compassion for your teammates or women at all, you would admit you have an unfair advantage and not do this to women.’

She continued: ‘I don’t understand how we could have been more supportive as a team. But I will not back down, and my teammates and women across the country should not be told to back down from speaking their mind about an issue that so heavily affects them.

‘They’re being discriminated against. Women’s rights are being violated.’

Martina Navratilova, who is widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, has called Thomas to have an asterisk by her name when she wins women’s races, arguing that the 22-year-old athlete’s racing against biological females is unfair and should be noted.

Navratilova spoke out amid Thomas’s historic victory on Thursday night at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in Georgia.

The lesbian athlete, whose previous comments on trans competitors have angered some factions of the LGBT community, spoke exclusively to News Nation Prime on Thursday evening.  

Navratilova said that the current rules, permitting Thomas to compete as a woman because she has completed the required year of testosterone-reduction treatment, were wrong.

‘It’s not about excluding transgender women from winning ever,’ the 65-year-old said. ‘But it is about not allowing them to win when they were not anywhere near winning as men.’

Navratilova, one of the first openly gay sportswomen, blazed a trail in the 1970s and 80s, but said Thomas’s situation was wrong.

‘You try to keep it as close as possible to what it would had been, were you born in the female biological body in the first place,’ she said. ‘And even saying that, people take exception to – biological female. People don’t even want to use those words.

‘I don’t know what else to say. Other than that.’

Navratilova suggested that transgender women be treated separately from those born female.

‘But the solution perhaps for now is to swim in a lane; you can compete but you don’t get the medal,’ she said.

‘Because the rules are not correct. But right now, the rules are what they are.

‘Maybe put an asterisk there.’

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