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Lia Thomas Cleared to Compete in Upcoming Ivy League Championships

Lia Thomas Cleared to Compete in Upcoming Ivy League Championships

Lia Thomas Cleared to Compete in Ivy League Championship
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

There's still no word if the record-setting trans UPenn swimmer will be eligible for next month’s NCAA Championships.

Lia Thomas will swim in the upcoming Ivy League Championship after updated eligibility guidance from USA Swimming had earlier placed her participation in jeopardy.

A spokesperson for the Ivy League confirmed via email to Swimming World that the recent rule changes would not prevent the record-setting swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania from competing in the Ivy League Championship next week. The new eligibility requirements from USA Swimming, the governing body for competitive swimming in the U.S., had previously put her participation in doubt, though it still remains unclear if Thomas will be eligible to compete in the upcoming NCAA Championship scheduled for March.

"The recent rule changes do not impact Lia's eligibility for this month's Ivy League Women's Swimming & Diving Championships as the effective date for this unprecedented midseason NCAA policy change begins with the 2022 NCAA Winter Championships," the league's said in their emailed statement.

The new eligibility guidelines for trans swimmers from USA Swimming increases the required time of testosterone suppression from one year to three years for elite trans athletes and also subjects them to review by a panel of experts to determine if their prior development provides "an unfair advantage" against her competition. The NCAA had earlier announced they would defer to national governing bodies like USA Swimming for its guidelines regarding transgender athletes.

Thomas began transitioning in May of 2019, so her eligibility in the NCAA swimming championship and beyond remains unclear. She has dominated the competition this season, setting program records in the 200 and 500-meter freestyle events.

"USA Swimming has and will continue to champion gender equity and the inclusivity of all cisgender and transgender women and their rights to participate in sport, while also fervently supporting competitive equity at elite levels of competition," USA Swimming said when announcing the new guidelines.

USA Swimming noted how the top-ranked female swimmer in 2021 would, on average, rank 536th among males in short yard (25 yards) events and 326th among males in long yard (50 meters) events.

"The policy, therefore, supports the need for competitive equity at the most elite levels of competition," USA Swimming concluded.

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