transgender athlete lia thomas iszak henig swimming
© Yale Athletics; Penn Athletics
(L)Yale University swimmer Iszac Henig was victorious at the women’s 100- and 400-yard freestyle races.
(R) University of Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas had caused controversy for shattering multiple records at women’s swim meets and wiping out opponents.
Transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas was crushed twice in a women's swim meet by another transgender competitor who is transitioning from female to male - first in the 100-yard freestyle, where she placed fifth, and then again in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Competing against Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Yale, Thomas won the first of her four races by just two seconds - one month after she shattered two women's records with a 38-second margin against her closest competitor. She also narrowly won the 500-yard freestyle by a second, with bystanders telling that she seemed to be 'coasting' and 'barely trying'.

But stunned parents at the meet held at UPenn's pool in Philadelphia gasped as Yale swimmer Iszac Henig easily beat out his opponents in the women's 100-yard freestyle with a time of 49.57 seconds. Thomas finished fifth with a time of 52.84 seconds.

Iszac Henig tansgender swimmer female to male
© The MacFarlanes for the
Iszac Henig (pictured before the 400-yard freestyle relay) wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in July 2021, saying that he had not taken testosterone treatment because he still wanted to compete in the women's swim team
Henig, a 20-year-old from Palo Alto, California, has delayed hormone treatments to finish his career on Yale's women's team as he transitions from female to male.

In the women's 400-yard freestyle relay, Henig again crushed Thomas and his other competitors, finishing in 50.45 seconds to power Yale to victory in the meet. Thomas finished her leg of the race in 51.94 seconds.

Henig also finished first in the 50-yard freestyle in a time of 22.76. After the race, Henig, who has had surgery to remove his breasts, pulled down the top of his swimsuit, shocking some parents at the meet.

'I wasn't prepared for that. Everything is messed up. I can't wrap my head around this. The NCAA needs to do something about this. They need to put science into the decision and discussion,' a UPenn parent, who wanted to remain anonymous, told

Another parent said: 'A man just crushed the women's team.'

While another said that Thomas, whose dominance in the pool was displayed at a meet in October where she smashed two women's records, 'didn't even try. She looked very relaxed.'

Henig still competes on the Ivy League school's women's team after coming out to coaches and teammates in April 2021, and told the New York Times in July that he was not taking hormones because he still wanted to compete.

'As a student athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position. I could start hormones to align more with myself, or wait, transition socially, and keep competing on a women's swim team. I decided on the latter,' he wrote in an opinion piece.

'I value my contributions to the team and recognize that my boyhood doesn't hinge on whether there's more or less testosterone running through my veins. At least, that's what I'll try to remember when I put on the women's swimsuit for the competition and am reminded of a self I no longer feel attached to.'

Earlier on Saturday, Thomas won the first of four races by just two seconds - one month after she shattered two women's records with a 38-second margin against her closest competitor.

UPenn's swim meet on Saturday was the team's first since last month, when Thomas blew away the competition and shattered two national women's records at the Zippy International in Akron, Ohio. Such was her dominance in the 1,650-yard freestyle that second placed swimmer Anna Kalandadze, a UPenn teammate, finished 38 seconds behind her.

On Saturday, she was cheered to victory as she won the 200-yard freestyle, finishing 1.48.73, with her closest competitor just two seconds behind her.

In a less dominant display than in Ohio, Thomas swam slightly behind her closest competitor for most of the race, before pulling ahead at the end in the final heat. In the first heat, she finished about five second ahead of her closest competitor. UPenn's final home event of the season took place behind closed doors, with only media and a few dozen family members present after college officials announced last week that general spectators were banned, citing Covid concerns. revealed last week that a number of Thomas's teammates had considered boycotting the event over her participation but were worried about being labeled transphobic and banned from the Ivy League championship in February.

'How convenient that they have now avoided this potential conflict that they're now aware was going to take place,' a parent told

On Thursday, UPenn and the Ivy League publicly reaffirmed their support for Thomas, pointing out that she is following the rules established by the NCAA.

'As a member of the NCAA, Penn is governed by the policies of the national governing body,' Penn Athletics wrote on Twitter.

'Lia Thomas has met or exceeded all NCAA protocols over the past two years for a transgender male student-athlete to compete for a women's team. She will continue to represent the Penn women's swimming team in competition this season.'

There were about 200 people in the bleachers - with each swimmer and coach allotted two guests.

One parent of a swimmer on UPenn women's team said the university's decision was disappointing and questioned the timing of the announcement.

'The parents were really amped up for this final home meet, the senior recognition, a chance to show glowing support for the team and for the girls. And now that opportunity is not going to be available.'

Thomas came out as transgender in 2019 and under NCAA rules was eligible to switch from the men's team to the women's after taking a year of testosterone suppressants.

But the 22-year-old's dominance has outraged some of her teammates and prompted the resignation of veteran USA Swimming official Cynthia Millen, who said it was grossly unfair for 'biological men' to compete with women.

Thomas appeared to shrug off the discord as exclusive images captured her team being put through its paces at the Olympic-sized pool at Sailfish Splash Waterpark, a municipal aquatic center that hosts NCAA training while the slides and attractions are closed to the public over the winter.

The UPenn athletes were escorted to and from their hotel by security and a female guard kept a close eye on the twice-daily sessions.

Thomas was seen walking into the outdoors venue in silence but looked relaxed and at ease with her teammates as they stood around the pool chatting and sharing a picnic meal in the bleachers.

Before coming out as transgender Thomas swam for UPenn's men team for three years before the 2020-21 season was cancelled due to the pandemic. She competed as a man as recently as November 2019.

In her senior year Thomas joined the women's team after adhering to the NCAA's Policy for Transgender Student-Athlete Participation which allows someone born male to participate as a woman after 'completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.'

Despite setting three school records and two national records, Thomas shrugged off the furor in a recent interview, telling swimming news site SwimSwam: 'It's not healthy for me to read it and engage with it at all, and so I don't, and that's all I'll say on that.'

Her teammates have been less accepting of Thomas's post-transition feats, however. Days after the Zippy International, two swimmers complained anonymously to the media about a 'lack of fairness'.

'They're having to go behind the blocks knowing no matter what, they do not have the chance to win. I think that it's really getting to everyone,' one told OutKick.

Days later, learned that parents of about 10 swimmers on the team are demanding the NCAA change rules that have permitted Thomas to dominate.

'At stake here is the integrity of women's sports,' they wrote in the letter sent to the NCAA and forwarded to the Ivy League and Penn officials.

'The precedent being set - one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete - is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport. What are the boundaries?'

Weeks later, Olympic swimming champion Nancy Hogshead-Makar declared in a column for that it was not fair for biological women to have to compete against Thomas.

She likened it to racing against doped-up East Germans.

'Trans women should compete with biological women, so long as they can demonstrate that they have lost their sex-linked, male-puberty advantage prior to competition in the women's category,' she wrote in the December 24 article.

'Lia Thomas cannot make that demonstration. While she has apparently been complying with NCAA rules requiring hormone therapy for over two-and a-half years now, she is still competing with an unfair advantage.'

Henig came just short of his collegiate bests, having previously done the 50 in 22.59 and the 100 in 48.90.

With the 2020-21 season canceled due to the pandemic, Henig is looking to improve on having finished third in the 100-yard freestyle at the Ivy League Championships in 2019-20 and topping a fifth-place finish in the conference in the 50-freestyle.