WATCH NOW: Swimming parents speak out, call on NCAA to review rules regarding transgender athletes and women’s sports
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Several swimming parents said the NCAA should review rules regarding transgender athletes and women’s sports,.
They expressed their concerns to Fox News following University of Pennsylvania’s latest home meet where transgender athlete Lia Thomas competed after recently breaking two national records.
“It starts with the NCAA,” two parents of a Penn swimmer on the women’s team told Fox News. “I think the NCAA needs to change its policies, and find a way to include transgender women without trampling all over biological women,” the parents said.
Another Penn swimming parent, Sue Feldman, said: “I think that this is obviously an issue and they should probably just look at how they’re going to handle it and maybe handle it better in the future because right now they’re not handling it so well.”
Penn hosted Dartmouth College and Yale University at a swim meet Saturday. Thomas, a senior, won the 200-yard freestyle (1:48.73), the 500-yard freestyle (4:57.20), and finished fifth in the 100-yard freestyle (52.84). After breaking two national records at a December meet, Thomas renewed debate over trans inclusion in competitive sports.
The Ivy League and Penn released statements Thursday supporting Thomas.
“Over the past several years, Lia and the University of Pennsylvania have worked with the NCAA to follow all of the appropriate protocols in order to comply with the NCAA policy on transgender athlete participation and compete on the Penn women’s swimming and diving team,” the statement said. “The Ivy League reaffirms its unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes while condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form,” the league said.
Penn said the school is “committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes” and “as a member of the NCAA, Penn is governed by the policies of the national governing body. Lia Thomas has met or exceeded all NCAA protocols over the past two years for a transgender female student-athlete to compete for a women’s team.”
“We fully support all the student-athletes and coaches in our swimming and diving program,” the school said.
A Dartmouth swimming parent told Fox News: “the fact that it’s gotten so much attention, it needs to be looked at more closely by the NCAA.”
UPenn Swimmer Lia Thomas
(Fox News Digital)
Several parents told Fox News they empathized both with Thomas and the girls competing against her.
“I feel like she followed all the rules that she’s supposed to follow” Feldman said, adding that she “empathizes with the other girls that are playing against her.”
The Dartmouth swimming parent said he felt for Thomas, but “it’s not fair to girls that have swum since they were 6 years old to compete…for someone who had a chance at winning the Ivy League Championship and that dream is shattered.”
Similarly, parents of the Penn women’s swimmer told Fox News they “have nothing against Lia personally” but felt for their daughter who had been “affected directly” since she swims the same events and had been “bumped out” of her spot.
(Fox News Digital)
“When she came on to the team, she had dreams of maybe breaking some records, things like that and that may not be possible now,” the parents told Fox News. “And she’s angry that she sees her friends being bumped from relays or a roster that travels to a meet.”
Feldman told Fox News: “It’s hard to get up on the blocks and know that you probably have very limited chance of winning, but that can happen against anyone really, if you’re coming against Katie Ledecky, you’d have the same problem.”
Penn swimming competes next against Harvard on Saturday, January 22.
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