On Tuesday, members of the University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming and diving team released a statement in support of their teammate, Lia 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.”
The statement was not signed, but a Penn spokesperson told ESPN “It represented several members of the team.”
This marks the first public expression of support from Thomas’s teammates. The statement references an anonymous team member who was extremely critical of Thomas and the decision that allowed her to compete. The anonymous swimmer bashed Thomas to Fox News, The Daily Mail, OutKick, and the Washington Examiner.
Thomas began making international headlines when she set school records in the 200 and 500 freestyle at the Zippy Invitational in December 2021. Thomas currently holds the fastest 200 freestyle (1:41.93) and 500 freestyle (4:34.06). She also ranks 7th in the 1,650 freestyle (15.59.71).
The NCAA updated its transgender policy in January by passing the buck to USA Swimming and FINA to create sport specific criteria. USA Swimming then issued a statement in favor of transgender athlete inclusion.
On Tuesday, USA Swimming released its new Athlete Inclusion, Competitive Pay and Eligibility Policy (AICEEP), which is effective immediately. The elite athlete eligibility policy consists of “Evidence that the prior physical development of the athlete as a male, as mitigated by any medical intervention, does not give the athlete a competitive advantage over the athlete’s cisgender female competitors.” And, “Evidence that the concentration of testosterone in the athlete’s serum has been less than 5 nmol/L (as measured by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry) continuously for a period of at least thirty-six (36) months before the date of application,” per USA Swimming.
The previous International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy was 10 nmol/L, double the standard USA Swimming is implementing.
Penn is scheduled to compete in the Ivy League Championships February 16-19, and the NCAA Championships March 16-19.