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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, rather than the national champion and the University of Pennsylvania. transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
Binder, a senior from Armonk, New York, was among 577 students nominated for the honor earlier this month and was one of eight athletes nominated at the Ivy League conference.
A NCAA Women’s Foil Champion in 2019, she placed fifth at the Ivy League Championships that 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 Connie S. Maniatty Female Award winner as Columbia’s top senior student-athlete.
Binder beat out several other athletes for the accolade, including Thomas, whose nomination in mid-July sparked a debate around her eligibility as a transgender woman.
Thomas set records in the pool during the 2021-22 college swimming season, culminating in an NCAA swimming championship in March and a major debate over 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 freestyles (47, 37), 200 free (1:41.93), 500 free (4:33.24), 1000 free (9:35.96) and 1650 free (15:59.71).
At the Ivy League Championships in February, Thomas finished first in points out of 129 swimmers, taking first place in three events. Thomas won the 100-meter freestyle title in 47.63, which was a school and competition record time.
Thomas also took first place in the 200m freestyle, setting meet and pool records with a time of 1:43.12 seconds, and in the 500m freestyle 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.
At NCAA Championships in Marchwhile Thomas didn’t enjoy quite the same level of success, finishing fifth in the 200 freestyle and eighth in the 100 freestyle, Thomas won 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.
Thomas was one of two people 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’s website, a school can nominate two people for the award if one of the two nominees is a “student-athlete of color or an international student-athlete.”
Bryzgalova, whose hometown is Moscow, Russia, had a stellar season for the UPenn women’s tennis team, as she was named All-Ivy League first team in singles and doubles. Bryzgalova finished the 2021-22 season with a 23-7 overall record and was named ITA Northeast Region Senior Player of the Year.
Monday’s announcement narrowed the field to 151 student-athletes. The Woman of the Year Selection Committee will now select 10 nominees in each division and the top 30 will be announced in October.
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.