WATCH: Lia Thomas Swims 4:33.82 in 500 Free Prelims at NCAA Championships


Reported by Anne Lepesant.


  • NCAA Record: 4:24.06 – Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • Meet Record: 4:24.06 – Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • American Record: 4:24.06 – Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • US Open Record: 4:24.06 – Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • Pool Record: 4:30.81 – Leah Smith, Virginia (2016)
  • 2021 Champion: Paige Madden, Virginia – 4:33.61

Finals qualifiers:

  1. Lia Thomas, 5Y, Penn – 4:33.82
  2. Erica Sullivan, FR, Texas – 4:36.79
  3. Emma Weyant, FR, Virginia – 4:37.25
  4. Paige McKenna, FR, Wisconsin – 4:37.36
  5. Evie Pfeifer, 5Y, Texas – 4:37.39
  6. Brooke Forde, 5Y, Stanford – 4:38.19
  7. Morgan Tankersley, SR, Stanford – 4:38.65
  8. Kensey McMahon, SR, Alabama – 4:38.76
  9. Tylor Mathieu, JR, Florida – 4:39.07
  10. Julia Mrozinski, FR, Tennessee – 4:39.60
  11. Madelyn Donohoe, JR, Virginia – 4:39.61
  12. Dune Coetzee, FR, Georgia – 4:40.24
  13. Abigail McCulloh, FR, Georgia – 4:40.58
  14. (tie) Lola Mull, SO, Northwestern / Erica Laning, 5Y, ASU – 4:40.70
  15. Emma Nordin, 5Y, ASU – 4:40.78

Penn’s Lia Thomas won the final heat in a dominant 4:33.82. Swimming next to her in lane 5, Stanford’s Brooke Forde stayed within half a body length through the first 200 yards. From the 250 mark onward, Thomas began to increase her lead, outsplitting Forde by about .5 per 50. Thomas came to the wall 4.3 seconds ahead of Forde, who finished second in 4:38.19. Alabama’s Kensey McMahon was third in 4:38.76.

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1 year ago

Should not have been allowed to compete.

1 year ago

This column in today’s Washington Post provides food for thought…

Perhaps we need to focus more on the supposed “purpose and value” of college athletics instead of just who wins? Brooke Forde was fine with competing with her and had a very thoughtful perspective on the situation.

Reply to  SwimParent
1 year ago

For most of my life, I was told by coaches over and over again that swimming is about times, racing the clock, being your best.

Then a trans woman had success, and suddenly, it’s all about winning.

Reply to  swimapologist
1 year ago

If it’s truly only about bettering their times, then why can’t Thomas race against men? Or alone?

1 year ago

Yes she is competing within the rules (for now), however her smirking and laughing after races shows she has no regard or respect for her competitors, or the sport. She and the NCAA law makers have placed the sport into disrepute. I’ve said before on this forum, you can change physiology to an extent (ie androgen levels), however nothing will take away the bigger heart, lungs and physical features, which all provide a distinct advantage. I’m not just taking about shoulders and wingspan either – image if Ian Thorpe decided to become a transgender swimmer, no amount of hormones would reduce his size 17 feet. Would you want those flippers competing against women?? It was hard enough against men. Let’s… Read more »

Reply to  jason
1 year ago

This might be the dumbest Lia Thomas comment ever. Swimming after your race is a character flaw? Making an uncomfortable face when people shout at you is a character flaw?

Talk about cognitive dissonance. You decided you were going to make her a villain before she did anything.

Reply to  swimapologist
1 year ago

it’s easy to hide behind the veil of transphobia when social acceptance and inclusion are mutually exclusive to competitive sports. Unfortunately for those confused about the two paradigms, this wont end well for transgender athletes, logic and fairness in sport will prevail. And for the record, I have spent the last 20 years fighting for transgender inclusion in healthcare, as part of my jobs.

1 year ago

Lia should be racing as EXHIBITION as she has a clear advantage over the other female swimmers.

1 year ago


Last edited 1 year ago by Cindi
1 year ago

3 seconds in a 500 at elite level is alot I’d argue.

1 year ago

the person yelling “cheater” is complete trash.

swimswam plz let me post my comments
1 year ago

Bro no way your saying this when Brooke Forde has a 4.31 pb and many women r capable of beating Lia. This was a relatively slow a final heat it just seems as if ur a casual and just partake in the Lia hate for following the rules and not the NCAA hate

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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