Concluding a tumultuous season of media attention and broken records, transgender Penn women's swimmer Lia Thomas is set to compete at the NCAA National Championships in Atlanta beginning today.
Thomas will swim the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle events — both of which she is seeded to win — as well as the 100-yard freestyle, and she will be joined by Penn juniors Catherine Buroker and Anna Kalandadze.
On Feb. 10, the NCAA announced that it will not adopt USA Swimming’s more rigid policies for transgender athletes ahead of this year’s championship, thus preserving Thomas' eligibility to compete in the meet.
Both the Ivy League and Penn Athletics have come out in support of Thomas, in addition to over 300 current and former swimmers, who signed a letter in support of her on the same day the NCAA announced that it would preserve her ability to compete.
In early February, 16 Penn swimmers wrote in an anonymous letter that they were opposed to Thomas competing on the women's team — saying she was taking "competitive opportunities” away from them, particularly spots in the Ivy League championship meet.
This will be Thomas' first appearance at the pool after a Sports Illustrated exclusive cover story that discussed her experience as a transgender athlete competing in Division I swimming and marked her first public media statement since an interview with SwimSwam in December.
At the Ivy League Championships in late February, Thomas won all three of the events that she will be competing in at the NCAA Championships.
This week, Buroker and Kalandadze will participate alongside Thomas in the 500 free, and they will also swim the 1,650-yard freestyle. Buroker won the 1,650 free at the Ivy League Championships, while Kalandadze finished third behind Buroker. In the 500 free, Buroker and Kalandadze finished second and fourth behind Thomas, respectively.
After all three swimmers compete in the 500 free on Thursday, Thomas will swim in the 200 free on Friday and the 100 free on Saturday, while Buroker and Kalandadze will compete in the 1,650 free on Saturday.