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Penn swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship after beating out not only the top-ranked swimmers across the country but an Olympic medalist in the 500-yard freestyle event on Thursday night. 

Still, the crowd cheered for the second-place finisher, Virginia freshman Emma Weyant, who clocked a time of 4:34.99, falling behind Thomas in the final 100 yards of the 500 freestyle event. Texas freshman Erica Sullivan and Stanford’s Brooke Forde finished in third and fourth place with times of 4:35.92 and 4:36.18, respectively. 

Weyant, 20, won the silver medal in the women’s 400-meter individual medley at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Florida native is also a three-time U.S. National Champion, a two-time Junior Pan Pacific medalist and a four-time Florida High School Athletic Association 4A State Champion in the 500 free and 200 individual medley.  

Texas swimmers Erica Sullivan and Evie Pfeifer embrace as 500 Freestyle winner Lia Thomas walks past during the NCAA swimming and diving championships March 17, 2022, at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Honestly, this is like crazier than anything I could have dreamed of,” Weyant said after her Olympic medal-winning race, via Virginia’s team website. “I’m just so happy to be here to race the best in the world. It is so much fun.”

Emma Weyant of the U.S. poses with the silver medal for the women’s 400-meter individual medley final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre July 25, 2021.
(Clive Rose/Getty Images)

A Penn swimmer told Fox News Digital in an interview this week that any record set by Thomas this season should be questioned. 

“It’s not necessarily an achievement in my mind,” the student, who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, said. “Women’s records are separate from men’s records. It’s its own distinct category because no woman is going to be as fast as a man … we’re just throwing away the definition of a record to fit into someone else’s agenda of what it should mean to them when, in reality, it makes no scientific sense to do so.” 

Thomas spoke of her thoughts entering the championships. 

“I didn’t have a whole lot of expectation for this meet,” she said. “I was just happy to be here and race and compete the best I could.”

Transgender woman Lia Thomas (left) of the University of Pennsylvania 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 and diving championships March 17, 2022, in Atlanta. 
(Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Images from after the event appeared to show a divide, with Thomas accepting her award as Weyant, Sullivan, and Forde posed together for a picture. According to one report, all the women except fifth-place finisher Evie Pfiefer appeared to applaud for Thomas when she was announced the winner. 

Thomas qualified for the 200 free finals on Friday night after coming in second in prelims with a time of 1:42.09.

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