A Tennessee state women’s swim champion said it was unfair a man was allowed to compete against college women swimmers.
University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines explained Wednesday to Fox News host Tucker Carlson how unfair it felt to her. Gaines said it was wrong women were forced to compete against Lia Thomas in women’s swim matches. She was further angered by being forced to change and shower in the same locker room as him.
Will Thomas was a relative unknown when he swam with the men’s swim team at the University of Pennsylvania. After he declared himself a transgender woman and began swimming with the women, Lia Thomas became a household name.
He had been cleared to compete as a woman swimmer after taking hormone treatments for more than a year, which had been the NCAA. threshold for qualification.
After months of complaints by women swimmers and their parents, the governing body for swimming announced changes that effectively ban transgender swimmers. After the June rule change by FINA, only athletes who transitioned before they were 12 years old will be permitted to compete in women’s swim events.
Gaines faced Thomas in the NCAA Women’s Championships’ 200-yard freestyle final in March. The two tied for fifth place. Gaines said there was only one fifth place trophy to hand out. Meet officials gave Thomas the trophy, according to a report from the Daily Wire at the time. The report noted Gaines had to pose with a sixth place trophy with the understanding she would receive her fifth place trophy later by mail.
“So not only were we forced to race against a male, we were forced to change in the locker room with one,” Gaines told Carlson. “That’s not something we were forewarned about, which I don’t think is right in any means, changing in a locker room with someone who has different parts.”
Gaines said she didn’t pay too much attention when it was first announced Thomas posted a very fast time for the 200 meter freestyle, as she went about her training like always. She said her mind was blown, though, when she learned Thomas would be competing against women.
She and her teammates did not know who to turn to or talk with about their feelings concerning Thomas competing as a woman. Gaines said it was unfair for a man to compete as a woman because it made a mockery of women’s sports. She said the whole point of having women’s teams was to create a more level playing field for female athletes.
“Once you start infringing upon something that people have fought so hard to get and something that I know, personally, I have dedicated essentially my whole life to,” remarked Gaines, “I’m allowed to think that’s not okay and obviously not support that by any means.”
“I talked to my athletic director, I talked to my parents, and I was like, ‘Are you all okay with this?,'” she explained. “And they all said, ‘Speak your heart, go for it.'”
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