Penn’s Lia Thomas Blasts a 1:46 200 Free But Columbia Ekes Out the Win at Home

Columbia University vs. University of Pennsylvania Dual Meet

  • November 5, 2021
  • Percy Uris Natatorium, New York, New York
  • SCY (25 yards)
  • Full Results (PDF)
  • Team Scores
    • Women: Columbia 158-Penn 142

Columbia women’s swimming and diving team hosted the Penn women on Friday at Percy Uris Natatorium in New York. While Penn senior Lia Thomas took home a pair of gold medals in the 200 free and 100 free with margins of 5.4 seconds and 1.3 seconds, the Lions edged the Quakers 151-142 in their home pool.

Thomas, who swam as Will Thomas on the Quakers’ men’s team as a freshman, sophomore, and junior, took the 2020-21 season off and is swimming with the women’s team as a senior this season. She told Penn Today, “Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding.”

She contributed three first-place finishes and a second, winning the 200 free (1:46.92) and the 100 free (50.35) and contributing to the winning 200 medley relay (22.76 anchor) and runner-up 200 free relay (22.74 anchor). Her 100 and 200 free times were not far off the Penn women’s team’s records (49.37/1:45.69), and her time in the 200 free ranks her 9th in the NCAA so far this season.

Thomas’ teammate, freshman Vanessa Chong, won three individual events and contributed the fly leg (25.08) on the winning 200 medley relay. Chong went 2:00.87 to beat classmate Joy Jiang (2:03.11) in the 200 fly. She also won the 100 fly (55.50) and the 200 IM (2:03.45). Runner-up in the IM was teammate Anna Boeckman (2:06.32), who also finished second in the 200 breast. Other top performers for the Quakers included Anna Kalandadze, who won the 1000 free (10:06.78) and was runner-up in the 500 (5:00.71) and Hannah Kannan, who won the 100 back (57.42) and placed third in the 200 back (2:04.08). Junior Margot Kaczorowski was runner-up to Thomas in the 100 free (51.71).

Columbia had big performances from sophomores Allegra Walker and Aziza Ganihanova, junior Olivia Jubin, and first-years Emily MacDonald and Allison Martin.

Ganihanova was runner-up in the 1000 free, an event that otherwise favors the Quakers. She won the 200 back (2:00.31) and was third in the 200 IM (2:06.67).

Jubin (1:52.34) and Martin (1:52.85) were second and third behind Thomas in the 200 free. Jubin won the 500 free (4:57.78) and came in fourth in the 200 IM (2:06.72). Martin added a second place in the 100 fly (56.34).

Walker won the 100 breast (1:04.51) and 200 breast (2:19.74).

MacDonald kicked off her Columbia career with a win in the 50 free (23.77) ahead of teammate Isabelle Arevalo (23.92) and Penn’s Kaczorowski (23.93). MacDonald also took third in the 100 free (52.45).

Penn swept the top three positions in 1-meter diving with sophomore Alice Diakova (291.90 points), freshman Macy Pine (274.50), and senior Brighida Rosendahl (261.90).


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Anonymous Female Swimmer
2 years ago

This is tremendously challenging for all of us swimmers who were born women. Many of us absolutely want to be supportive of this individual person, respecting her decision to make personal choices about her gender identification, but it’s impossible for us to feel like this is fair to us. We want her to find some acceptance and fulfillment in swimming as a transgender woman and to be able to find camaraderie with women in sport general, but there are some limits, aren’t there?

Ms. Thomas grew up in swimming and has also competed successfully as a male swimmer. Her swimming times as “Will Thomas” are documented as faster than most American collegiate women’s times so far in history and would… Read more »

2 years ago

Lia surely does not want to take women’s records off the Ivy boards nor claim medals that belong to biological women. I do credit her bravery and comments.

It does however speak to the poor execution of this movement that those who disagree with the methodology are shamed for bigotry.

Why can’t Lia swim as a woman, suit included, with the UPenn men’s team? She would still be able to compete, definitely garner attention for her movement and public praise (mine included). Let Lia participate in college athletics as a woman, on the men’s team where she was for three previous years. It would be great for all to see her compete with men who embrace her true identity!… Read more »

Former Swim Dad
Reply to  ShallowEnd
2 years ago

Where did it say that Lia does not want to take Ivy records or medals belonging to biological women? I did not see that in her comments. I agree with many or your comments and sentiments. There has to be a better/smarter way to move forward.

Angry Female Swimmer
2 years ago

What I do not understand is why more female athletes are not waking up to the threat this poses to female athletes? How can someone who has had over 20 years of testosterone flooding their muscles be allowed to compete with females who were born with XX chromosomes and have not benefited from such strength-enhancing hormones?? Testosterone when taken by women is a PED. Furthermore, the level of testosterone at which national sporting bodies say is ok for trans female athletes is still multiple times the natural level of a XX female. Allowing coaches to have Trans female athletes on their teams gives them incentive to cheat and only recruit Trans athletes. Then what happens to XX females, they do… Read more »

Reply to  Angry Female Swimmer
2 years ago

The girls know what this means. They have been gagged because the NCAA allows thus AND the LGBTQT community will have a freaking meltdown if anyone says anything.

2 years ago


2 years ago

flat out unfair. what about the other female athletes? I understand that Thomas feels affirmed by being able to participate on the women’s team. But what about the feelings of the female athletes, who want to have a fair competition? do their feelings matter?

2 years ago

I saw the headline and was like “Damn! That’s a fast in season time for an Ivy League female swimmer”.

2 years ago

Not fair or right at all. Those times shouldn’t count as female times.

2 years ago

It’s silly to be upset at this young woman who is a vocal trans rights activist and clearly has a good head on her shoulders. She’s just trying to swim and be herself (like the rest of us) and help folks like herself who have struggled with their identity and fitting in. That being said, there has got to be a better way of going about this than letting trans women absolutely dominate in athletics. I truly feel bad for her competition… and I don’t think that’s a crazy feeling to have.

Reply to  Penguin
2 years ago

Hit the nail on the head. She expresses gratitude for being able to continue in the sport, which is great, but it simply is not fair for her competition.

Reply to  Penguin
2 years ago

It’s not a young woman, it’s a young man with messed up mind, incouraged by other nuts like him.

Holy cow
Reply to  Penguin
2 years ago

If a person rejects the two sex model of biology then surely they/them would agree to a non-cis category for athletics.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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