Lia Thomas — the trans swimmer at the center of a media firestorm — has her eyes on the Olympics after college
Dominant University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas wants to compete beyond college.
The trans athlete at the center of a media firestorm is eyeing the Olympics after she graduates.
In an SI feature, USA Swimming representatives said they "have no issue" with her participation.
Lia Thomas — the University of Pennsylvania swimmer at the center of the debate over transgender inclusion in women's sports — has higher aspirations once she's exhausted her NCAA eligibility.
She's even got her eyes on the Olympics.
In an exclusive interview with Robert Sanchez for a feature in Sports Illustrated, Thomas expressed her desire to compete beyond college and potentially book her ticket to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. And according to Sanchez, USA Swimming officials "have no issue with Thomas representing the United States" on the Olympic stage so long as she "meets the criteria to continue swimming in the women's category."
But plenty of people — from casual swimming fans to the biggest names in the sport — would likely take issue with Thomas' participation.
The Penn senior, who recently punched her ticket to the upcoming NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, has faced intense media scrutiny based on her gender. Thomas competed for the Quakers' men's team for her first three years of college before starting hormone therapy and rejoining the team on the women's side a year later.
Since then, she's found incredible success in the pool. Thomas became the 2022 Ivy League champion in the 100-, 200-, and 500-meter freestyle events, then led Penn's quartet to the school's first-ever victory in the women's 400-meter relay.
Now that she's headed to the NCAA Championships in Georgia, Thomas has "an outside chance to break longstanding collegiate records held by Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin," Sanchez writes. Should she compete in Paris in 2024, she could have a shot at challenging the former's Olympic records as her counterpart on Team USA.
Thomas fully intends to continue training after she graduates from Penn. She's already applied to law school, where she hopes to jump-start a career in civil rights law whether or not she realizes her Olympic dreams. She wants to advocate for people like herself, Sanchez writes.
"I just want to show trans kids and younger trans athletes that they're not alone," Thomas told Sanchez. "They don't have to choose between who they are and the sport they love."
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