Lia Thomas picks up victory in 500 free national championship

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Lia Thomas is a national champion.

The transgender Penn swimmer, whose participation in college women’s swimming sparked a national debate, finished the 500-yard freestyle with a 4:33.24 and picked up the victory. According to the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas set a program record with the mark.

University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas swims in a preliminary heat for the 500-meter freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas waits for a preliminary heat in the Women’s NCAA 500 meter freestyle swimming championship start Thursday, March 17, 2022, in at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Thomas’ dominance in the pool comes amid a heated debate on whether transgender female athletes should be allowed to compete against biological females.

The NCAA updated its transgender participation policy back in January to defer to the guidance of each sport’s governing body. The NCAA announced that its policy would become effective in March, starting with the Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

USA Swimming updated its policy shortly after requiring transgender athletes who are competing at an elite level to have small levels of testosterone — half of what Thomas was allowed to compete with — for at least 36 months before being eligible, but the NCAA said weeks later that the Administrative Subcommittee of the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CMAS) decided that it wouldn’t alter its testosterone guidance, stating that “implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.”

Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas waits for a preliminary heat in the Women’s NCAA 500 meter freestyle swimming championship start Thursday, March 17, 2022, in at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The women’s championships run through Saturday.

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

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