University of Pennsylvania

Lia Thomas has made history as the first out transgender athlete to win an National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming championship.

She dominated the final 100 yards of the 500-yard freestyle on 18 March, finishing in first place with a season-best time of 4 minutes, 33.24 seconds.

In second place was Virginia’s Emma Weyant with a time of 4:34.99.

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

She also won the preliminary race with a time of 4:33.82 which, like the official championship, was close until the final 100 yards when Thomas pushed into the lead.

Thomas, a transgender swimmer on the women’s team at the University of Pennsylvania, previously spent three years competing on the men’s team.

She has become the topic of debate among those questioning trans participation in sport, which she rarely weighs in on.

“I try to ignore it as much as I can,” Thomas explained. “I try to focus on my swimming .. and just try to block out everything else.”

The NCAA requires participants to get involved in the official news conference, which Thomas did not do.

It is unclear if this will result in any consequences for the swimmer.