Sat. Aug 6th, 2022

Lia Thomas’ NCAA Woman of the Year bid ends, Ivy League selects Columbia fencer

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The NCAA announced its conference selections for the 2022 Woman of the Year award on Monday, naming Columbia University fencer Sylvie Binder as The Ivy League pick, over national champion and University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

Binder, a senior from Armonk, New York, was among the 577 overall students nominated for this honor earlier this month and was one of the eight athletes nominated from The Ivy League conference.

Amita Berhier, of Notre Dame, watches as Sylvie Binder of Columbia celebrates after winning the Foil semifinals during the Division I Women's Fencing Championship held at The Wolstein Center on the Cleveland State University campus on March 24, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Amita Berhier, of Notre Dame, watches as Sylvie Binder of Columbia celebrates after winning the Foil semifinals during the Division I Women’s Fencing Championship held at The Wolstein Center on the Cleveland State University campus on March 24, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. 
(Jason Miller/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

An NCAA Women’s Foil Champion in 2019, she placed fifth at The Ivy League championships this season, second at the Northeast Regional, and third at the NCAA Championships with an overall record of 17-6. She was also named the 2022 Women’s Connie S. Maniatty Award winner as Columbia’s top senior student-athlete. 

Binder beat out several other athletes for the distinction including Thomas, whose nomination in mid-July sparked a debate surrounding her eligibility as a transgender female. 

LIA THOMAS’ NOMINATION FOR NCAA WOMAN OF THE YEAR IS A ‘SLAP TO THE FACE’ FOR FEMALE SWIMMERS: RILES GAINES

Thomas set records in the pool during the 2021-2022 college swimming season, culminating in an NCAA swimming championship in March and a major debate about transgender participation in athletics.

As the 2022 season progressed, Thomas – who started hormone replacement therapy in 2019 – shattered UPenn records in the pool, breaking the university’s school record in the 100 free (47.37), 200 free (1:41.93), 500 free (4:33.24), 1,000 free (9:35.96) and 1,650 free (15:59.71).

Lia Thomas looks on after winning the Women's 500 Yard Freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lia Thomas looks on after winning the Women’s 500 Yard Freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

At the Ivy League championships in February, Thomas finished first in points out of 129 female swimmers, taking home first place in three events. Thomas won the 100-meter freestyle title in 47.63, which was a school and meet-record time. 

Thomas also took home first place in the 200 free, setting meet and pool records with a time of 1:43.12 seconds, and in the 500 free where Thomas set a pool record with a time of 4:37.32. Thomas’ 500 free time at the Ivy League Championships broke the previous record held by Olympian Kate Ziegler, according to Sports Illustrated.

FORMER COLLEGE ATHLETES TAKE STAND AGAINST LIA THOMAS’ NOMINATION FOR ‘WOMAN OF THE YEAR’

At the NCAA Championships in March, while Thomas did not experience quite the same level of success, finishing fifth in the 200 free and eighth in the 100 free, Thomas took home first place and set an Ivy League record in the 500 freestyle.

Prior to transitioning, Thomas swam for the men’s swim team at Penn for three seasons.

Transgender woman Lia Thomas (L) 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 & Diving Championshipon March 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Transgender woman Lia Thomas (L) 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 & Diving Championshipon March 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. 
(Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Thomas was one of two individuals to be nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year from the University of Pennsylvania. Tennis player Iuliia Bryzgalova was also nominated. 

According to the NCAA website, a school may nominate two individuals for the award if one of the two nominees is a “student-athlete of color or international student-athlete.”

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Bryzgalova, whose hometown is Moscow, Russia, had an outstanding season for UPenn’s women’s tennis team, as she was named first-team All-Ivy League in both singles and doubles. Bryzgalova finished the 2021-2022 season with an overall record of 23-7 and was named the ITA Northeast Region Senior Player of the Year.

Monday’s announcement narrowed the field down to 151 student-athletes. The Woman of the Year Selection Committee will now select 10 nominees from each division and the top 30 will be announced in October. 

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas enters for the 200 Freestyle final during the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia.  

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas enters for the 200 Freestyle final during the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia.  
(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Selection guidelines include a personal statement from each nominee, service and leadership, academic achievement, and athletic excellence. 

The winner will be announced in January at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio.



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