Transgender swimmers break records at Ivy League Women's Championships

Transgender swimmers Iszac Henig and Lia Thomas continue to dominate at Ivy League Women’s Championships: Henig eclipses pool record in 50 freestyle while Thomas beats next closest competitor in 500 free by FIVE seconds

  • Iszac Henig and Lia Thomas continued to dominate the Ivy League Women’s Championships Thursday, during the second day of events at Harvard University
  • Thomas, who swam for Penn State’s men’s team as recently as 2019, recorded the fastest time of all swimmers in the Women’s 500 freestyle, by five seconds
  • Henig, who swims for Yale and is in the process of transitioning from female to male, beat the pool record in the 50-yard freestyle by just roughly three seconds 
  • Both times were recorded during the competitions’ prelims, where swimmers commonly preserve their full effort for the finals, scheduled later in the day
  • Transgender swimmers Iszac Henig and Lia Thomas remained unbeatable at the Ivy League Women’s Championships on Thursday, with one smashing a record and both  leaving their biological female competitors in their wake during the second day of events at Harvard University.    

    Thomas, who swam for the University of Pennsylvania‘s men’s team as recently as 2019 when she began medically transitioning to a woman, recorded the fastest time of all swimmers in the Women’s 500 freestyle preliminary heats by a full five seconds, finishing in 4:41.19 – five seconds shy of the event’s meet record, and six less than the all time NCAA record.

    Meanwhile, Henig, who swims for Yale and is in the process of transitioning from female to male but is allowed to compete as a woman because she has yet to take any testosterone, beat the pool record in the 50-yard freestyle by just nearly three-tenths of a second with a time of 22.05.

    Both are now favored to capture their events in the finals, which are scheduled for tonight, as the controversy over the NCAA’s decision to allow them to compete continues to swirl.

    Thomas, who swam for Penn State's men's team as recently as 2019 when she began medically transitioning to a woman, recorded the fastest time of all swimmers in the Women's 500 freestyle race by a full five seconds, with a time of 4:41.19 - five seconds shy of the event's meet record, and six less than the all time NCAA record

    Henig, who swims for Yale and is in the process of transitioning from female to male but is allowed to compete as a woman because she has yet to take any testosterone, beat the pool record in the 50-yard freestyle by just roughly three seconds, with a time of 22.05

    Transgender swimmers Iszac Henig (right) and Lia Thomas (left) continued to dominate the Ivy League Women’s Championships Thursday, shattering records and dusting the female competition during the second day of events at Harvard University








    On Wednesday, the two clashed in the 800-yard freestyle relay, recording the fastest relay times of all swimmers on the first night of the competition.

    The utter domination displayed by the athletes has raised concerns about their continued participation in the historic competition. 

    Thomas, 22, is allowed to compete as a woman because she has completed a year of hormone treatment. 

    Henig, 21, who uses he/him pronouns, has yet to begin taking hormones and stripped down to briefs after cruising to victory in the race while swimming in a women’s bathing suit.  

    U.S.A. Swimming earlier this month announced a new requirement that transgender women must suppress their testosterone levels for three years before competing, a rule under which Thomas would have been excluded.

    Thomas immediately after recording a time five seconds better than all other competitors. The utter domination displayed by her and other trans athletes, like Henig (not pictured), has raised concerns about their continued participation in the historic competition

    Thomas immediately after recording a time five seconds better than all other competitors. The utter domination displayed by her and other trans athletes, like Henig (not pictured), has raised concerns about their continued participation in the historic competition

    Thomas, 22, is allowed to compete as a woman because she has completed a year of hormone treatment

    Thomas, 22, is allowed to compete as a woman because she has completed a year of hormone treatment

    Henig dives off the starting block and into the water during Thursday's 50 yard freestyle swim

    Henig dives off the starting block and into the water during Thursday’s 50 yard freestyle swim

    Henig, 21, who swam topless and uses he/him pronouns, wore a pair of men's swimming briefs Wednesday but donned a woman's suit Thursday during her race. He took off his top after the race was finished

    Henig, 21, who swam topless and uses he/him pronouns, wore a pair of men’s swimming briefs Wednesday but donned a woman’s suit Thursday during her race. He took off his top after the race was finished

    It appeared that Thomas would then be barred from the N.C.A.A. championships in Atlanta in March, because the N.C.A.A. said they would follow U.S.A. Swimming rules.

    However, last week, the N.C.A.A., the national body overseeing college sports, said that instituting a new policy in the middle of the season would be unfair — allowing Thomas to compete at the N.C.A.A. championships.

    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.

    ‘If a cis woman gets caught taking testosterone twice, she’s banned for life, whereas Lia has had 10 years of testosterone,’ said Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming and the president of the advocacy group Champion Women.

    ‘It’s about the principle of having sport continue to be sex-segregated: having a space where women are really honored and where they can triumph,’ she said.

    Hogshead-Makar coordinated a letter, signed by 16 of Thomas’s anonymous teammates, expressing concern about her participation.

    Thomas celebrates with his fellow Penn State swimmers. Less than three years ago, she was apart of the school's men's team

    Thomas celebrates with his fellow Penn State swimmers. Less than three years ago, she was apart of the school’s men’s team

    Henig, seen here at middle in the grey, converses with her teammates. He is in the process of transitioning to a man but is allowed to compete in the games

    Henig, seen here at middle in the grey, converses with her teammates. He is in the process of transitioning to a man but is allowed to compete in the games

    ‘We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman,’ the letter states, CNN reported.

    ‘Lia has every right to live her life authentically. However, we also realize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity.

    ‘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.’

    Yet other members of the team spoke in support of Thomas.

    ‘We want to express our full support for Lia in her transition,’ the athletes said.

    ‘We value her as a person, teammate, and friend. The sentiments put forward by an anonymous member of our team are not representative of the feelings, values, and opinions of the entire Penn team, composed of 39 women with diverse backgrounds.

    ‘We recognize this is a matter of great controversy and are doing our best to navigate it while still focusing on doing our best in the pool and classroom.’

    Thursday’s finals are set to begin on