UPenn transgender swimmer underperformed in big race to conceal competitive edge: sports expert

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A professor of exercise physiology reportedly seems to be suggesting that a transgender swimmer may have metaphorically pumped the brakes to make her dominance over the other college athletes less conspicuous.

In a Twitter thread, South Africa-based sports science analyst and podcaster Ross Tucker charted one of the races won by University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas at the Ivy League Championships.

“Thomas’ latest win came after a sports expert claimed she deliberately underperformed during a recent race she won to make her advantage look less obvious. By comparing lap times for the medalists…500-yard free[style] on Thursday, CBS sports analyst Ross Tucker posited that the trans UPenn swimmer ‘produced a controlled effort below max for the race,’ suggesting that she underperformed to minimize the appearance of an advantage over competitors,” the Daily Mail reported.

“Thomas, who swam for the…men’s team as recently as 2019 when she began medically transitioning to a woman, recorded the fastest time of all swimmers in the women’s 500-yard freestyle finals by a full seven seconds, as she won by half a pool length and broke a 15-year a pool record with a time of 4:37.32.”

“But Tucker thinks Thomas could have won by an even bigger margin, with race data suggesting she had considerable reserve energy that she chose not to expend,” the news outlet added.

In a lap-time, chart shared on Twitter for the first, second, and third-place finishers that included the wording “Pacing strategy 101,” the PhD rhetorically wondered, “Which of these patterns suggests a significant reserve capacity and likely underperformance?”

He then went on to apparently answer his own question, referring to the winning gold pattern as “suggestive of someone who has maintained a reserve, producing a controlled effort below max for the race.”

“This is a pattern that suggests a very comfortable effort, well managed and controlled, with significant capacity to go faster, realized in the final 50 yards on. If was a coach of that athlete, I’d be excited at the potential time if pacing was optimal,” Tucker added what he apparently considers an anomalous performance.

Readers can review the entire thread and draw their own conclusions about the alleged competitive advantage.

Penn sophomore Catherine Buroker finished second in this particular race, recording a seasonal best. Buroker took first place in the 1,000 and 1,650 events.

At the Ivy event overall, Lia Thomas won an unprecedented four titles: the 100-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle, the 500-yard freestyle, and the 400-yard freestyle relay.

According to ESPN, “Thomas became the only three-time individual winner at the meet….All told this week, Thomas is a new owner of two Ivy League records and three [Harvard Univ.] Blodgett Pool records….Thomas has automatically qualified for the NCAA championships in the 200 and 500 freestyle events.”

Thomas’ “success has placed her at the center of a heated national debate on transgender athletes’ — especially trans women’s — rights to play sports. Thomas’ detractors — including some of her teammates — say that her male-at-birth assignment gives her an unfair biological advantage. Her supporters say that because Thomas has followed all eligibility protocols, including being on hormone therapy for more than two and a half years, she has a right to compete,” the Philadelphia Inquirer explained.


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