Penn’s Lia Thomas Opts for 100 Free over 1650 Free for NCAA Championships


  • March 16-19, 2022
  • McAuley Aquatic Center, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards), Prelims/Finals
  • Pre-Selection Psych Sheets

University of Pennsylvania senior Lia Thomas has opted for the 100 yard free instead of the 1650 yard free at the 2022 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. She will also swim the 200 yard free and 500 yard free.

Thomas swam for three seasons on the men’s team at Penn before undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy and joining the women’s team. While she was competing for the men’s team, the 1650 free was her best event: as a sophomore in 2018-2019, she ranked 34th in the NCAA in that race, just-missing an NCAA Championship invite.

Thomas drew national attention mid-season at the Zippy Invite when she swam 15:59.71 in the 1650 free, winning the race by more than 37 seconds. While she was well ahead of that field, nationally her time didn’t rank as well – she is just 11th in the country this season, 17 seconds behind Tennessee’s Kristen Stege, who is the top-ranked miler in the NCAA.

At the Ivy League Championships, she swam the 100 free instead, where she won in 47.63. That broke the Harvard Pool Record, the Ivy League Championship Record, and the overall Ivy League Record in the event. Miki Dahlke, who previously held the Harvard Pool Record, spoke out in support of Thomas after that race to ESPN:

“Records are made to be broken. I am a faster swimmer because of fast swimmers of the past, and the future of swimming will be faster because of the women at the top of the NCAA today,” Dahlke said.

She was among more than 300 athletes who signed an Athlete Ally’s letter in support of Thomas.

“I signed the letter because I believe Lia should have the same opportunity to compete in a sport she loves just like any other woman in the NCAA. I think it’s important to create a safe space for all athletes in sport,” she said.

Thomas is the 10th seed in the 100 free, which is one spot better than she would have been seeded in the 1650 free. She is also the top seed in the 200 free and 500 free.

She will be joined at the NCAA Championships by her Penn teammates and distance-group training partners Catherine Buroker and Anna Kalandadze. Buroker is the 29th seed in the 500 free, crushing her own personal best time at the ECAC Championships last weekend to catapult up the rankings and land among the invitees. Buroker will also swim the 1650 free with her “B” cut in that race.

Kalandadze, meanwhile, swam 16:07 in the 1650 free at that same meet, which knocked 21 seconds off her season best (and 5 off her lifetime best when she swam at Cal). She now ranks 18th nationally in that event, which will also qualify her for NCAAs.

No current member of the Ivy League has won an NCAA event title in women’s swimming & diving.

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2 years ago

I’ll call her a she because I respect her right to live as she chooses, but she has no right to compete in a woman’s sporting event. She’s not a woman. Plain and simple !!!

2 years ago

She’s not a woman. Plain and simple !!!

HS & College Swimmer
2 years ago

I was around when Title IX was passed. Before TItle IX, girls did not have equal opportunities in sports and education. Title IX carved out a space for females in sports.

And back then there was no such thing as “gender identity” – Title IX was specifically about biological sex.

I can’t believe that I saw the beginning and the end of Title IX – the beginning and the end of women’s sports in the US. And I’m still in my 50s.

Unless we women athletes fight for younger women athletes it’s going to be RIP Women’s Sports. Come on ladies, let’s do everything we can to Save Women’s Sports for our young female friends!

2 years ago

I have a Beautiful Daughter , My daughter has the Right as a Woman Not to compete against males no matter transformed or not !

Claire Curzan Fan
Reply to  Ricky
2 years ago

definitely a troll

Beverly Drangus
2 years ago

Doesn’t this argument about an insidious plot to maximize her unfair advantage completely fall apart when we look at the article and see her seed is just one place different between the two events? And am I doing swimming wrong if I’m not punching?

2 years ago

Who gaf just respect people and what they want. Crying because someone wants to be treated with respect is sad af

Reply to  Virtus
2 years ago

Crying to let one person feel better at the expense of fair sport is even more sad.

Last edited 2 years ago by Entgegen
Reply to  Virtus
2 years ago

Devils advocate here, and to use your words… does that require Lia to respect the wishes of biological women who don’t want to compete against her? (because there are some) meaning she should, see and know that what her competing is doing. While its not breaking a rule in the book, at least one not adopted yet, there is something morally wrong.

before everyone pounces, I have said, I support her and her wanting to swim as long as its fair for every woman.

Last edited 2 years ago by mcmflyguy
2 years ago

Why do we even have separate teams for men and women? I mean it’s 2022, time to level the playing field and combine all teams. No more separate records for women and no “mixed“ relay. Everyone is together and swimming in one competition. Now this is fair!

Honest Observer
2 years ago

The good news is, women’s NCAAs is going to get a *lot* of attention from the mainstream media.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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