Sports

UPenn teammate speaks out against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas

A University of Pennsylvania swimmer has spoken out against transgender teammate Lia Thomas’ ongoing dominance in the pool, saying she “was not even close” to being competitive in male events before transitioning.

The anonymous female swimmer gave an interview to the Washington Examiner on Sunday — a day after Thomas, 22, racked up two more wins at a meet against Ivy League rival Harvard University.

She railed against the NCAA for not acknowledging Thomas had a distinct advantage and accused the board of governors of “not protecting women’s rights.”

“Women are now third-class citizens,” the swimmer told the outlet.

“Lia was not even close to being competitive as a man in the 50 and the 100 [freestyle events]. But just because Lia is biologically a man, [Lia] is just naturally better than many females in the 50 and the 100 or anything that [Lia] wasn’t good at as a man.”

Lia Thomas finished first in her 100-yard race in 50.55 seconds.
JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

Thomas, who swam for UPenn’s men’s team for three years before transitioning, has made headlines this year after breaking several school and national records competing as a female.

“Imagine if there was this kind of inequality in men’s sports. Or someone found out about doping in a men’s sport. It would be fixed in a blink of an eye. Everyone would be all over it. But because it’s women, they don’t care,” the teammate said.

“I can’t just sit back and let something like this happen. I’m not just going to sit back and say, ‘My rights are being taken away, too bad.’ It’s embarrassing that people aren’t speaking out more.”

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers gets ready to compete in a freestyle event during a tri-meet on January 8, 2022.
Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers gets ready to compete in a freestyle event during a tri-meet on January 8, 2022.
Getty Images
Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas looks on in the warm-up pool during a swim meet, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022
Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas looks on in the warm-up pool during a swim meet, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
AP

The teammate went on to say she didn’t know if Thomas thought the situation was “fair.”

“This can’t possibly be rewarding in any way,” the swimmer said. “I can’t see how anyone could feel good about this.”

During Saturday’s meet, Thomas finished first in her 100-yard race in 50.55 seconds with her closest competitor coming in at 51.51.

University of Pennsylvania student Lia Thomas
University of Pennsylvania student Lia Thomas has qualified to compete in March at the 2022 NCAA swimming and diving championships.
Courtesy of Penn Athletics

In the 200-yard race, she won in 1:47.08 with the second place swimmer finishing behind at 1:48.44.

Those wins came just days after the NCAA approved new guidelines that say trans participation for each support will be determined by the sport’s national governing body — pending review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the board of governors.

Under the new regulations, Thomas and transgender student-athletes have to document testosterone levels, which must meet sport-specific levels, four weeks before their sport’s championship selections.

Lia Thomas
Lia Thomas is congratulated by a fellow competitor after winning the 200-meter freestyle event on January 8, 2022.
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Thomas has qualified to compete in March at the 2022 NCAA swimming and diving championships, where she is set to race in the women’s 200-yard, 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle.

Penn released a statement last Thursday vowing to work with the NCAA regarding Thomas’ participation for the upcoming championships.

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