By Stewart Perrie
A transgender swimmer who recently broke two US records believes competing against women is fair.
UPenn trans swimmer Lia Thomas eviscerated her competition at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio after finishing 38 seconds ahead of her teammate in the 1,650 yard freestyle event.
She also left rivals in the dust in the 500 yard freestyle race by touching the wall 14 seconds ahead of her closest competitor.
Her efforts broke two US records and came close to beating some world records.
She's now spoken out against the backlash she's received since winning gold and explained why she feels she's eligible to compete in the women's division.
"I've experienced a lot of muscle loss and strength loss," explained to SwimSwam about how her transition has changed her body. "[Swimming has] been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.
"Pre-transition there was a lot of of uncertainty about my future in swimming and whether or not I'd be able to keep swimming at all and so I'm just thrilled to be able to continue to swim.
"I love to compete and I just love to see how fast I can go. It's sort of an ongoing evolution of what I think I can go based on how my training sort of progresses and evolves."
Thomas competed in the men's division until she transitioned in 2019 and has been taking hormone blockers ever since.
She said she felt trapped in her body before she embarked on her gender journey and revealed how being in the men's division caused 'a lot of distress' and damaged her mental health.
While her times are incredible in the women's division, they are noticeably slower compared to before she started transitioning.
Thomas' best time in the 200 Free at UPenn as a male was 1:39:31, she swam the 500 Free in 4:18:72 and the 1,650 in 14:54:76.
However, since she started taking hormone replacement treatment, her times fell to 1:41:93 in the 200 Free, 4:34:06 in the 500 and 15:59:71 in the 1,650 Free.
Lia also hit back against an unnamed female member of the UPenn swim team who said everyone is raging about her doing so well at swim meets.
"The team has been unbelievably supportive since the beginning, you know, teammates and coaches....I feel very supported. Just treated like any other member of the women's team," she said to SwimSwam.
She also said the team's head coach has been supportive of her transition.
Lia reckons the International Olympic Committee got it right when setting up the regulations for trans inclusion in sport is appropriate.
"I think the guidelines they set forward are very good and do a very good job of promoting inclusivity while keeping competitional integrity going," she said.
"Each sport basically has to come up with eligibility criteria for what constitutes an unfair advantage in that sport.
"Everybody is able to compete in the category they're most comfortable with unless there's a proven unfair advantage that they have."
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