Ivy League swimmer Lia Thomas is one of the most celebrated transgender athletes. She has spoken out about her identity and the controversy surrounding her. A former student of Duke University, Thomas won the women’s 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships. In 2018, she began hormone replacement therapy to change her gender identity. She said the treatment helped her deal with her low self-esteem and helped her perform better in the pool.
Although she has avoided commenting on the issue, she has been in the public eye since 2021. As a collegiate swimmer, she has been in the spotlight since March. Her story touches on issues of transgender inclusion, fairness in sports, and the intersection of identity and athletics. Her interview with SwimSwam is the first to discuss her experiences and her decision to transition. But can she truly be considered transgender?
In her junior year, Thomas competed in college competitions as a man. She competed against Columbia men in a 1,000-yard freestyle race. Afterward, Thomas decided to change her name to Lia Catherine, after her mother had encouraged her to do so. She took a year off from swimming and took a break from competitive athletics to maintain her eligibility. In summer 2021, she returned to Penn, where she swam in the women’s division.