ESPN reports.Thomas has won Ivy League swimming championships this season — her first on the women’s team — and had NCAA season-best times in two freestyle events at the Zippy Invitational in Ohio in December.
Her success in the sport has fueled criticism by those who object to trans women competing alongside cisgender women, although the reality is that there is no widespread dominance of sports by trans women and girls.Indeed, Thomas’s time in the freestyle final “was the fastest of the NCAA season, but well off the NCAA record of 4:24.06, held by 10-time Olympic medalist Katie Ledecky,” CNN notes.There were protests and counterprotests Thursday outside the Georgia Institute of Technology’s McAuley Aquatic Center, where the events were taking place.
Inside the center, a few audience members jeered, while one yelled “cheater” as Thomas did a post-competition interview with ESPN’s Elizabeth Beisel.Thomas told Beisel that she tries to tune out any negativity. “I try to focus on my swimming, what I need to do to get ready for my races,” she said. “And just try to block out everything else.”Even some of her Penn teammates have objected to Thomas’s presence in the women’s competition, with an anonymous letter written on behalf of 16 of the 40 swimmers.
But numerous other athletes have defended her; 300 current and former collegiate and elite swimmers recently signed on to an open letter supporting her.One of them was the University of Texas’s Erica Sullivan, an Olympic silver medalist who finished third in the freestyle.