NCAA Swimmer Speaks Out On Lia Thomas: Sports World Reacts

Lia Thomas speaking to ESPN.

Lia Thomas speaking to ESPN.

A collegiate swimmer who competed against Lia Thomas has released a message for the NCAA, calling for rule changes.

Reka Gyorgy, a female swimmer from Virginia Tech, finished in 17th place in qualifying for the 500 meter freestyle at the NCAA Championships. The top 16 swimmers made it to the finals of the event, so Gyorgy missed out.

The 500 meter freestyle was won by Thomas, the transgender swimmer from Penn. The female swimmer previously competed for the men’s team, but after transitioning and going through hormome therapy, joined the women’s team.

All season long, there’s been discussion about Thomas’ performance and the rules surrounding transgender athletes. While many have supported Thomas’ right to compete, others have pushed back.

“Every event that transgender athletes participated in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet,” Gyorgy wrote.

Gyorgy is one of the first direct competitors of Thomas to speak out publicly. Erica Sullivan, who competed against Thomas in the 500 meter freestyle, previously showed her support for her.

“Like anyone else in this sport, Lia has trained diligently to get to where she is and has followed all of the rules and guidelines put before her. Like anyone else in this sport, Lia doesn’t win every time. And when she does, she deserves, like anyone else in this sport, to be celebrated for her hard-won success, not labeled a cheater simply because of her identity.

… Many of those who oppose transgender athletes like Lia being able to participate in sports claim to be “protecting women’s sports.” As a woman in sports, I can tell you that I know what the real threats to women’s sports are: sexual abuse and harassment, unequal pay and resources and a lack of women in leadership. Transgender girls and women are nowhere on this list. Women’s sports are stronger when all women—including trans women—are protected from discrimination, and free to be their true selves.

… I’m proud to be one of more than 300 NCAA, Team USA and Olympic swimmers who signed an open letter from Schuyler Bailar and Athlete Ally in support of Lia and all transgender and nonbinary swimmers. At the NCAA championships, I’ll be cheering on Lia and all of the amazing swimmers that make this sport great by being authentically and proudly themselves.”

Thomas’ collegiate swimming career is over. She finished her career by becoming the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA championship in a Division 1 sport.

The debate surrounding transgender athletes competing in sports is likely only going to grow louder in the years to come.

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