A teammate of transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas came forward to allege that she lost to a female-to-male transgeder swimmer on purpose.
In their final swim meet of the season, the University of Pennsylvania faced off against Yale, and so did both teams only transgender swimmers.
Lia Thomas, 22, a biological male, has been crushing women’s NCAA records throughout the season, and has sparked a national conversation about the fairness of allowing her to compete against women.
Yale’s Iszac Henig, 20, is a biological female who swam on the women’s team for the past three years, but unlike Thomas, held off on transitioning with testosterone hormones in order to remain eligible to swim in the women’s team.
“As a student athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position. I could start hormones to align more with myself, or wait, transition socially, and keep competing on a women’s swim team. I decided on the latter,” he said over the summer.
Thomas spent three years on the university’s men’s swim team before taking a year off to begin hormone therapy, until her testosterone levels were low enough to be eligible to swim her final year on the women’s team.
On January 8, Thomas and Henig both swam in the 100 meter freestyle race, and one UPenn swimmer believes the pair colluded to fix the race, when Thomas swam nearly three seconds slower than past performances and Henig won.
“Looking at [Lia’s] time, I don’t think she was trying,” Thomas’ anonymous teammate said. “I know they’re friends and I know they were talking before the meet. I think she let her win to prove the point that, ‘Oh see, a female-to-male beat me.’”
When asked if she thought the pair made a pact before the race, the swimmer said: “I do. I can’t say for sure, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I found out that was 100% true.”
She also noted that Thomas slowed down her swim during another event. “I was on deck and said to a friend, ‘She’s literally not trying.’ You could just tell. It was blatantly obvious. I was watching the 200 free and she was literally keeping pace with the other girls.”
The teammate said that Thomas had been the top swimmer in the country at one point during the season, and while the Yale team is “talented,” they’re no way near her caliber.
“You can tell when someone is dying and they’re swimming slow,” she concluded. “You can also tell when someone is not trying and I could see [in the 200 event] that Lia was not trying.”