Penn’s Lia Thomas Posts Season-Best Time In NCAA Championship 100 Free Prelims

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After posting a season-best time of 47.37 seconds in the morning prelims at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships, Penn’s transgender swimmer Lia Thomas will swim in the fourth seed in the 100-yard freestyle final Saturday night. 

ESPN reports that Thomas was in seventh in her heat after the first 50 but surged into second place behind Virginia freshman Gretchen Walsh, who touched the wall in 46.78 seconds.

Thomas, a fifth-year senior, entered the 100 freestyle with the 10th-fastest time in the country — a record set at the Ivy League championships in February.

Iszac Henig
Yale Bulldogs swimmer Iszac Henig warms up for the 100 free finals during the Ivy League Swimming & Diving Championships on Feb 19, 2022, at Blodgett Pool in Allston, MA. (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Yale junior transgender man Iszac Henig — eligible for the women’s championships because he has not started hormone therapy — reached the 100 freestyle final by swimming a career-best 47.55 on Saturday morning and earning the No. 8 seed.

Thomas and Henig will square off for the first time at the NCAA championships in the 100 freestyle final Saturday evening in a rematch of the Ivy League championships showdown where Thomas got the win over Henig. ESPN reports neither is favored to win.

Thomas, who previously competed on Penn’s male swim team, won the program’s first NCAA title in women’s swimming on Thursday in the 500 free.

The senior swimmer posted a program-record time of 4:33.24 as she captured gold and became the first Quaker female swimmer to win an NCAA individual title. Thomas’ teammates and fellow Penn swimmers, juniors Catherine Buroker and Anna Kalandadze, also took part in the 500 free posting respective times of 4:46.11 and 4:46.98.

Buroker tied for 45th overall during the prelims, while Kalandadze finished 49th in her head, the program said.

Lia Thomas
Penn swimmer Lia Thomas accepts the winning trophy for the 500 Freestyle finals as second-place finisher Emma Weyant and third-place finisher Erica Sullivan watch during the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 17, 2022, at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

The senior swimmer also finished fifth in the 200 freestyle on Friday, earning her All-America honor when she qualified for the evening final. Her 1:42.09 prelim time bettered only by Stanford junior Taylor Ruck, who swam a 1:41.89.

Lia Thomas
Penn swimmer Lia Thomas stands on the podium after winning the 500-yard freestyle as other medalists (L-R) Emma Weyant, Erica Sullivan and Brooke Forde pose for a photo at the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship on March 17, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images).

Ruck touched first with a pool-record time of 1:41.12, followed by Cal senior Isabel Ivey (1:41.59). Texas junior Kelly Pash was third in 1:42.38, Stanford freshman Lillie Nordmann was fourth in 1:42.63, and Thomas was fifth with a time of 1:43.40, per Penn Athletics.

Thomas swims in the 100-yard freestyle final Saturday at 6 p.m. — the 2022 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship event can be viewed here.

Check back with OutKick for updates on this story.

Follow Meg Turner on Twitter @Megnturner_ and Instagram @Megnturner

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Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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