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As Lia Thomas Swims, Debate About Transgender Athletes Swirls

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BOSTON — As Samantha Shelton, an accomplished Harvard swimmer, churned through the water in the 100-yard women’s freestyle on Saturday afternoon, the University of Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas seemed content to sit on her hip in the adjacent lane.

Shelton chugged ahead from the start, plowing through the water and carrying the lead. But as she did, Thomas cruised along beside her, seeming as unhurried as if on a training swim.

Thomas’s broad shoulders and long arms, hallmark features of an elite swimmer, mimicked a windmill with the ease in which they pulled her along.

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