VT swimmer ‘frustrated’ that Lia Thomas can swim with women
Lia Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships on Thursday, and a Virginia Tech swimmer spoke for many people when she expressed her displeasure with the result.
Thomas won the event with a time of 4:33.24. She finished more than a second ahead of Virginia freshman Emma Weyant, who posted a time of 4:34:99. Weyant competed at the Tokyo Olympics last year and took home a silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley.
Prior to the NCAA Championships, a Virginia Tech swimmer and several other people took part in a “Save Women’s Sports” rally to protest biological males competing in women’s sports. The swimmer spoke with Rapid Fire’s Savanah Hernandez.
Virginia Tech swimmer competing in this year’s NCAA championship details how her teammate was brought to tears after her place in the finals was taken by Lia Thomas: pic.twitter.com/mow56mVp1W
— Sav (@RapidFire_Pod) March 17, 2022
“It’s a common conception that we are all very disappointed and frustrated with someone who has capabilities more than us women have being able to compete at this level and take opportunities away from other women,” the swimmer said. “I have a teammate who did not make finals today because she was just bumped out of the finals. It’s heartbreaking to see someone who went through puberty as a male and has the body of a male be able to absolutely blow away the competition. You go into it with a mindset that you don’t have a chance.”
The VT swimmer said her teammate was in tears after finishing 17th in qualifying, with 16 swimmers making it to the final.
“It’s hard to compete against someone with the aerobic capacity, muscle development, the body of a man,” she added. “It’s hard; it’s hard to think about it like that. It’s disappointing to see and frustrating.”
Thomas, who swims for the University of Pennsylvania, set a program record with her time. She has been blowing away the competition, which has led to the NCAA updating its transgender participation policy. The new policy defers guidance for transgender participation to each individual sport’s governing body, which in this case would be USA Swimming.
USA Swimming updated its policy to state that transgender athletes must only have small levels of testosterone for at least 36 months prior to becoming eligible. The levels would equate to half of what Thomas was allowed to compete with, but the NCAA has decided to delay the change. The NCAA stated that “implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.”
The Virginia Tech swimmer is not alone. Olympic legend Michael Phelps recently indicated that he does not agree with Thomas being allowed to swim on the women’s team. Caitlyn Jenner, who is transgender and an Olympic gold medalist, offered a similar take.