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Lia Thomas wins individual Ivy League championship, first trans athlete to do so

Lia Thomas won the women’s 500-free at the Ivy League Championship, setting a pool record.

NCAA Swimming: Ivy League Swimming Championship-500 Free Prelims
Lia Thomas continues a successful season with an Ivy League Championship in the 500-free.
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Lia Thomas, the University of Pennsylvania swimmer, took her shot at her first Ivy League women’s swimming championships Thursday in Harvard’s Blodgett Pool after more than two months of speculation, rumors and rancor.

Her shot was a bullseye, winning the 500-yard freestyle and setting a pool record.

Thomas pulled away after the halfway point to a dominant win in 4:37.32. Teammate Catherine Buroker was second, and defending event champion Ellie Marquardt from Princeton was third.

Marquardt put a strong early challenge, matching Thomas stroke-for-stroke through 150 yards. From there, Thomas was able to take control and power to one of her fastest performances of the season, just three seconds off her NCAA-best and Ivy League record 4:34.06.

The win also makes Ivy League history. Thomas becomes the first transgender student-athlete to win an individual conference title and only the second do so in NCAA Division I competition. Montana track and field athlete June Eastwood was the first, winning the mile title at the Big Sky Conference indoor championships in 2020.