Leah Thomas, a transgender swimmer, hopes to continue competitive swimming after Ben

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Leah Thomas, who is a transgender woman, wants to continue competing after college, aiming for the 2024 US Olympic trials, according to Sports Illustrated.

“I don’t know exactly what the future of swimming will look like after this year, but I’d like to keep it going,” Thomas told Sports Illustrated in a story published Thursday. “I want to swim and compete who I am.”

Thomas, who set the nation’s best times at the 200 (1:41.93) and 500 (4:34.06) earlier this season, has been at the center of the debate over who can compete and win in women’s sports. Prior to competing on the women’s team, Thomas spent three seasons on the Pennsylvania men’s team.

“The simple answer is I’m not a man. I’m a woman, so I belong on the women’s team,” Thomas told SI. “People who are trans deserve the same respect that every other athlete gets.”

Thomas, who applied to law school, will participate in the NCAA Women’s Division I swimming and diving championships in the 100, 200, and 500-yard freestyle events. The NCAA announced on February 10 that Thomas will be eligible to compete in the women’s championships, taking place March 16-18 in Atlanta, by complying with former NCAA rules and after submitting a one-time serum level that demonstrated her testosterone. Less than 10 nanomols per liter.

“I just want to show the younger trans and athletic kids that they aren’t alone,” Thomas told SI. “They don’t have to choose between who they are and the sport they like.”

This includes competing in larger events to get ahead, and perhaps even representing the United States in international competitions.

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Officials from USA Swimming told Sports Illustrated that Thomas will be allowed to represent the United States in the women’s category as long as it continues to meet the entry criteria.

“I got energized,” Thomas told Sports Illustrated. “I’ve been swimming for 17 years, but for [only] In a short fraction of that time I felt fully engaged. After I’m on my true self, I can really start to see the future. Before I went out, I couldn’t envision the future.”

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