Dartmouth, Yale @ Penn
- Saturday, January 8th, 2022
- Sheerr Pool, Philadelphia, PA
- SCY (25 yards)
*not yet available
Penn’s Lia Thomas had an up-and-down day for the Quakers, still picking up a pair of victories.
Thomas, a transgender swimmer who competed her first two seasons at Penn on the men’s team, has found herself at the center of the ongoing debate as to the rules surrounding transgender athletes in sports. Per the NCAA policy on transgender athletes, a trans woman is allowed to compete on a women’s team if they’ve completed a minimum of one year of testosterone suppression treatment. Thomas has been receiving such treatment for the past 2.5 years. In recent weeks, people in various positions around the swimming community have voiced both support and criticism for Thomas’ ability to compete on the women’s team. Yesterday, the Ivy League released a statement in “unwavering support” of Thomas competing on the women’s team.
Thomas kicked off her racing on Saturday with a 1:48.73 to win the 200 free. The swim was Thomas’ 2nd-slowest 200 of the season so far, only faster than the 1:51.96 she swam at a dual meet with Brown in November. Notably, that 1:51 200 free came as part of the grueling 1000 free/200 free double, after swimming a 9:48 in the 1000. Although Thomas’ time Saturday could be classified as an “off” swim, the way she split the race seems to indicate otherwise. She swam 26.08 and 28.12 on the first 2 50s. Thomas then sped up on the back half, splitting 27.14 and 27.39, for a 54.53 on the 2nd 100 – almost an even-split swim.
She then went on to finish 6th in the 100 free, swimming a 52.84, which clocks in as her slowest 100 of the season by over a second. Thomas finished out the day with a 4:57.20 to win the 500 free. That swim stands as her slowest of the season by 3 seconds, and it’s 23 seconds slower than her season best of 4:34.06.
Thomas didn’t swim the 1000 free at this meet, but Penn flexed their distance muscles in the event. Junior Catherine Buroker took the race in 10:00.33, marking her first swim of the 2021-22 season. Buroker didn’t compete in the fall semester, but it appears she hasn’t skipped a beat, swimming the fastest non-championship meet 1000 of her career on Saturday. Buroker has qualified for the NCAA Championships in her two full seasons with the Quakers, and was the Ivy League champion in the 1000 and 1650 free in her first year, before finishing runner-up in both events as a sophomore. Prior to Lia Thomas‘ swims this fall, Buroker was the Penn Record holder in the 1650 free (16:09.76).
It was a 1-2-3 finish for Penn in the 1000 Saturday, as Grace Giddings took 2nd in 10:08.97, and Anna Sofia Kalandadze touched 3rd with a 10:09.72. For Giddings, the performance was her fastest of the season so far. This Penn distance squad is shaping up to be quite formidable. Thomas leads the Ivy League this season with her season best of 9:48.93, and Buroker’s time today lands her 2nd in the conference. Kalandadze is currently #6 in the conference with her season best of 10:05.96, and Giddings is now 9th with her performance today, giving Penn 4 of the top 10 1000 freestylers in the conference.
Buroker would go on to take 2nd in the 500 free with a 4:58.67, while Giddings would come in 3rd (5:03.16), marking another big distance race for Penn.
Yale went on a run after the 200 free, winning the next 7 swimming events. Lindsey Wagner kicked things off, swimming a 55.37 to win the 100 back by over a second. Next up was Ava Franks, who won the 100 breast decisively with a 1:03.37, then went on to claim victory in the 200 breast later in the meet (2:17.97).
Yale’s Alexandra Massey took the 200 fly in 1:59.63, getting out to the early lead and holding on to win over Dartmouth’s Mia Leko (2:00.23). Massey would then go on to win the 200 back, swimming a 2:01.05.
Izzi Henig, another transgender swimmer, handled the sprint events, winning the 50 free in 22.76, then coming out of the break with a 49.57 to seal the deal in the 100 free. Henig was in a league of his own today, winning the 50 free by 0.96 seconds, and the 100 by 1.60 seconds, both huge margins for those events. Over the summer, Henig was featured in a New York Times piece for Pride Month, in which he discussed his coming out as a trans man to his family and loved ones. In the piece, he discusses the decision to forgo hormone treatment for the time being, and simply transition socially, in order to continue competing on the women’s team for the remainder of his swimming career at Yale.
Massey came back into the fold for the 100 fly, where she won the race in 55.51, narrowly beating out Penn’s Vanessa Chong (55.73) to pick up her 3rd win of the day. Yale closed out the meet with victories in the 200 IM and 400 free relay. Raime Jones won the 200 IM in 2:03.85, using a 57.95 on the first 100 to get out to an early lead.
- 1 meter: Alyssa Palacios (Dartmouth) – 269.15
- 3 meter: Isabella Lichen (Dartmouth) – 259.65
Penn star first year Matthew Fallon, to no one’s surprise, won the 200 breast Saturday. He was the only swimmer in the field to crack 2:00, swimming a 1:59.88.
Fallon currently leads the 200 breast in NCAA this season with the 1:49.71 he swam at the Zippy Invite in December, and was a finalist at the U.S. Olympic Trials over the summer.
He also took 2nd in the 200 fly on Saturday with a 1:50.07.
In Fallon’s absence from the 100 breaststroke, Penn was still able to handle their business. The Quakers went 1-2 with Jason Schreiber swimming a 56.53, and Neil Simpson right behind in 56.78 for 2nd.
Yale’s Noah Millard posted a decisive victory in the 200 free, swimming a 1:38.14. Coming in 2nd was Yale teammate Nathaniel Hickman-Chow, who clocked a 1:40.80. Millard would go on to win the 500 free in 4:31.85, touching first by almost 5 seconds.
Joseph Page (Yale) won both his events on the day as well. He kicked things off with a win in the 100 back, swimming a 50.04. In the 100 free, Page swam a 44.91, winning by over 7-tenths of a second. Another Yale swimmer, Sungmin Kang, won the 200 fly in 1:49.05, before taking the 200 IM in 1:50.29.
Yale finished on a high note, going 1-2 in the 400 free relay. The ‘A’ team of Noah Millard (45.48), Joseph Page (45.14), Philippe Marcoux (44.47), and Marcus Hodgson (46.13) swam a 3:01.22. Nathaniel Hickman-Chow (47.32), Michael Bank (46.83), Felix Van Cauwelaert (46.27), and Greg Kalin (45.75) teamed up for a ‘B’ relay swim of 3:06.17.
- 1 meter: Cody Hopkins (Penn) – 314.20
- 3 meter: Cody Hopkins (Penn) – 334.90