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Swimmer Lia Thomas Felt Weaker, Slower in Competition After Transitioning

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ABC News' Juju Chang on Tuesday, Thomas said, "The mental and emotional changes actually happened very quickly. I was feeling a lot better mentally.

I was less depressed, and I lost muscle mass and I became a lot weaker and a lot, a lot slower in the water."Thomas was the subject of widespread controversy in the world of college athletics earlier this year after she won the 500-yard freestyle and became the first transgender athlete to win a Division I national championship in any sport.Despite receiving support from some of her rivals and more than 300 NCAA, Team USA and Olympic swimmers, Thomas faced numerous attacks from conservatives, like GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who refused to recognize the University of Pennsylvania swimmer as the winner in this year's championships."I knew there would be scrutiny against me if I competed as a woman," Thomas said. "I was prepared for that, but I also don't need anybody's permission to be myself and to do the sport that I love."The 22-year-old had previously competed on the University of Pennsylvania's men's team for three years.

As a sophomore in 2019, she finished second in the men's 500, 1,000 and 1,650 freestyles at the Ivy League championships."Sophomore year, where I had my best times competing with the men, I was miserable.

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