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Lia Thomas and Iszac Henig will compete in the NCAA Division 1 swim championships

They will be the first out trans athletes to compete at a Division 1 championship meet in NCAA history.

2022 Ivy League Womens Swimming and Diving Championships
After a season of racing and rancor, Penn’s Lia Thomas will get a chance at a national championship
Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

University of Pennsylvania senior swimmer Lia Thomas and Yale University senior swimmer Iszac Henig added their names to another page in the NCAA record books. They were both officially selected to the field for the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving championships in Atlanta, which will take place March 16-19.

Both transgender student-athletes are the first to earn an invite to the championship meet at the Division I level in their sport in NCAA history.

Thomas is one of three competitors from Penn to be a part of the championship. The meet comes at the end of a season that featured equal parts achievement and acrimony. On the strength of her knockout performance at December’s Zippy Invitational, Thomas will enter the 200-yard freestyle (1:41.93) and 500-yard freestyle (4:34.06) events as the top seed going in.

2022 Ivy League Womens Swimming and Diving Championships
Thomas, shown here winning the 500 free at Ivy League championships, will meet a fast, competitive NCAA field in Atlanta
Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

She will face formidable challengers in both races, but the 500 frees could be the most daunting. Just behind her in the seeding is Arizona State’s Emma Nordin, who many swimming observers touted as perhaps the best in her class prior to Thomas’ surprise emergence.

The fourth seed, Stanford’s Brooke Forde, is a two-time NCAA champion and brought home a silver medal as part of the Team USA 800 freestyle relay quartet at the Olympics last summer in Tokyo.

Forde is also one of the few competitors who has publicly supported Thomas. “I believe that treating people with respect and dignity is more important than any trophy or record will ever be, which is why I will not have a problem racing against Lia at NCAAs this year,” she said in a written statement.

2019 Toyota U.S. Open Championships - Day 3
Stanford’s Brooke Forde won the NCAA championship in the 500 free in 2018 and 2019, and showed public support Thomas being in the meet
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Thomas, mainly known as a distance swimmer for most of her college career, will join Henig in the field for the 100-yard freestyle. Thomas is seeded 10th, and Henig is 18th. Thomas outpaced Henig to win the event at February’s Ivy League championships.

Both Thomas and Henig will have to get past Michigan’s Maggie Mac Neil in order to achieve their championship dreams. The Canadian is the defending NCAA champion in the 100 free and 2021’s College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America Swimmer of the Year. She took home a gold, silver, and bronze for Team Canada in Tokyo last summer.

2022 Ivy League Womens Swimming and Diving Championships
Iszac Henig will be the lone Bulldog carrying the Yale banner in this championship, swimming in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events
Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Henig is Yale’s lone representative in this meet. In addition to the 100 free, he will also contest the 50-yard freestyle as the Ivy League champion.

Henig is seeded 19th in the 50 free. The sprint field includes Mac Neil and defending national champion, Kate Douglass of Virginia. In last year’s NCAA championship final Douglass edged Mac Neil by less than one second for the national championship.