The entire team has been ‘strongly advised’ not to speak to the media and the second swimmer has been granted anonymity.
Nevertheless, the teammate has stepped forward to tell how UPenn swimmers are ‘angry’ over what has been perceived as a ‘lack of fairness’ as Thomas smashes record after record in the pool.
On Sunday, Thomas, 22, put in an astounding performance at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio, that saw her finish the 1,650 yard freestyle 38 seconds ahead of her teammate Anna Sofia Kalandaze.
Lia Thomas, 22, (pictured after transitioning) is now dominating women’s college swimming records
A second female swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania has spoken out to air her frustrations and fury as her transgender teammate Lia Thomas continues to smash records
Thomas’s winning time was 15:59:71, with her UPenn teammate Anna Kalandaze coming second with a time of 16:37:44.
Thomas’s win was a record for the Zippy Meet, and the pool where the event took place. But she also managed to smash two US women’s swimming records during earlier races at the same event.
The second anonymous swimmer to speak out over Thomas’ performance has said Penn swimmers were upset and crying as they knew their times were going to be obliterated by her.
‘They feel so discouraged because no matter how much work they put in it, they’re going to lose. 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,’ the source said to Outkick.
A second anonymous female UPenn swimmer said she and other teammates have discussed their frustration with Thomas’ (right) place on their team with coach Mike Schnur (left) but said he ‘just likes winning’
This weekend, Lia Thomas won three events and set three new school records including two new Ivy League records. She is pictured setting the record at the 500 yard freestyle on December 3
‘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.
‘Usually everyone claps, everyone is yelling and cheering when someone wins a race. Lia touched the wall and it was just silent in there. When fellow Penn swimmer Anna Kalandadze finished second, the crowd erupted in applause.’
What stings the swimmers the most is that the records are being set by a swimmer who didn’t even make the first-team when she was competing in the All-Ivy league during the 2018-19 season.
The first US record was broken on Friday, December 3, when Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:34:06. She raced to victory 14 seconds ahead of Kalandaze – the swimmer she beat by 38 seconds on Sunday.
And then on Saturday, she won the 200 yard freestyle in 1:41:93 – seven seconds ahead of her nearest rival, giving her the fastest female US time ever for that race too.
The tall athlete towers over her UPenn swim teammate Hannah Liu (left) as the pair pose together
It’s the first season Thomas, who was formerly named Will, has competed in the swimming meets as a transgender woman. As Will, Thomas competed on the men’s team for two full seasons.
Last weekend she won three events and set three new school records including two new Ivy League records.
The anonymous source who spoke to Outkick claims that after the race, Thomas could be overheard bragging.
‘That was so easy, I was cruising,’ Thomas is alleged to have said before bragging in front of her teammates ‘At least I’m still No. 1 in the country,’ while claiming she was unhappy with her time in the 500.
‘Well, obviously she’s No. 1 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,’ OutKick’s source said.
‘Of course you’re No. 1 in the country when you’re beating a bunch of females. That’s not something to brag about.
The UPenn swim team recently posted about one of Lia’s records in the 500m freestyle (pictured)
Thomas (pictured in 2016 and 2017, respectively) was a star swimmer in high school
‘Honestly, this is so upsetting to us because we want to be acknowledged for our hard work, but it seems like this just keeps overshadowing us. Put Lia out of the picture — we have a really good team this year. We have one of the best teams we’ve had in years, and that’s being overshadowed by [Lia],’ OutKick’s source said.
‘Even without Lia, we had the chance to win the Ivy League this year, which is a huge deal for us. We train every single day and give up so much for this sport. And I love swimming. I do it because I love it. It’s been a part of my life forever, and this is a slap in the face that the NCAA doesn’t care about the integrity of women’s sports.’
Penn’s administration has backed Thomas publicly and says she is staying on the team and not going anywhere, with the team’s coach Mike Schnur also lying low and staying out of the spotlight.
‘He is just following the NCAA rules and the situation is out of his hands,’ the source said.
Video from the Zippy Invitational on Sunday showed Thomas, circled, beating out her nearest opponents, and consistently staying ahead of them at the women’s 1,650 yard freestyle
The non-negotiable position has now left teammates in a position where they feel as though they have no choice but to speak out risking any repercussion
‘While they say they care about all of us, our interests are in direct conflict with the interests of Lia in regards to fair competition and getting to compete. While we support Lia as a person to make decisions for her own life, you cannot make that decision and then come and impede on other people and their rights,’ the source continued. ‘Your right doesn’t supersede everyone else’s right.’
‘I don’t know what the solution is, but I know this is not it. Because people talk about how the trans community might’ve been marginalized before and this is supposed to be helping, but you can’t help the trans community by marginalizing [biological] women.’
‘I know no matter what, biological women will never be on an equal playing field with transgender females.’
Fellow University of Pennsylvania swimmer Anna Sofia Kalandaze, pictured above, finished behind Thomas by 38 seconds in the 1,650-yard freestyle race
Lia, pictured, told SwimSwam that her teammates have been ‘unbelievably supportive since the beginning,’ but the unidentified female swimmer told OutKick that support is ‘fake’
On Thursday, the first member of the UPenn swim team to speak out anonymously against Thomas said all support for her was fake.
‘The team has been unbelievably supportive since the beginning, you know, teammates and coaches. Mike has been one of my biggest supporters and allies in this process since day one and I’m very grateful to have that support from him and from everybody on the team. I feel very supported. Just treated like any other member of the women’s team,’ Thomas said in an interview.
But the unidentified female swimmer told OutKick that such support is ‘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.
‘The Ivy League is not a fast league for swimming, so that’s why it’s particularly ridiculous that we could potentially have an NCAA champion. That’s unheard of coming from the Ivy League,’ the swimmer explained.
Thomas’ success has sparked outrage amid controversy over transgender athletes competing in sports alongside others opposite of the gender they were assigned at birth, with many claiming a ‘man’ broke her recent women’s records. Pictured: Lia in 2020
What do the NCAA rules say?
According to the NCAA Policy on Transgender Student-Athlete Participation, a trans female must have undergone at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment before being eligible to compete on a women’s team.
The rules state: ‘A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.’
The guidelines also make clear that: ‘A trans female (MTF) transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team.’
In addition, if a sports team has been classified as a mixed team as a result of the inclusion of a trans woman who has undergone none or less than one year of testosterone suppression treatment, this classification remains in place for the remainder of the academic year ‘without exception’.
‘On paper, if Lia Thomas gets back down to Will Thomas’ best times, those numbers are female world records. Faster than all the times [Olympic swimmer] Katie Ledecky went in college. Faster than any other Olympian you can think of. His times in three events are [female] world records.’
Also on Thursday, Thomas, gave an interview to SwimSwam, which covers college and Olympic swimming news, and praised the fairness of the controversial IOC guidelines on inclusivity saying they keep ‘competitional integrity going.’
‘I think the guidelines they set forward are very good and do a very good job of promoting inclusivity while keeping competitional integrity going,’ she said.
‘Each sport basically has to come up with eligibility criteria for what constitutes an unfair advantage in that sport. Everybody is able to compete in the category they’re most comfortable with unless there’s a proven unfair advantage that they have,’ she explained.
‘I’m just thrilled to still be able to swim and I love to compete and I love to see how fast I can go. It’s sorta an ongoing evolution of what I think I can do.
‘I’m proud of my times, my ability to keep swimming and to continue competing. And they’re suited up times. I’m happy with them and my coaches are happy with them,’ Thomas added.
Penn’s team will be back in the pool on January 8 against Dartmouth with Thomas in line to claim NCAA 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 said.
Transgender athletes who have sparked controversy competing in women’s sports
Transgender runner CeCe Telfer
Trans women have sparked a firestorm of debate about their participation in women’s sports.
In June, transgender hurdler CeCe Telfer was barred from competing in the US Olympic trials after she failed to prove she could meet the testosterone requirements at the time.
The 5 nmol/L testosterone level, considered to be the highest a female-born woman would naturally have, was set by World Athletics in 2019 for members who want to join the US Olympic team to compete in women’s races of distances between 400 meters and one mile.
Another American athlete, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe, travelled to the Tokyo Olympic Games as an alternative.
She became the first transgender Olympian on Team USA. She did not compete in the Olympics.
Chelsea Wolfe BMX biker
Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard announced in August that she was retiring in the wake of her controversial appearance this summer at the Tokyo Olympics, where she failed to complete a single lift.
The 43-year-old, who transitioned in 2012, competed in the women’s 87kg+ category for New Zealand but crashed out after making history as the first trans woman to compete in a solo event. But she failed to record a single valid snatch lift in Tokyo.
Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard