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Swimmer who tied with Lia Thomas says female athletes ‘not OK’ with trajectory of women’s sports

Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas waits for results after swimming the women's 200 freestyle final

A University of Kentucky swimmer who tied in fifth place with Lia Thomas during the NCAA swimming championships’ 200-yard freestyle claimed that many female athletes are “not OK” with the trajectory of women’s sports.

“The majority of us female athletes, or females in general, really, are not OK with this, and they’re not OK with the trajectory of this and how this is going and how it could end up in a few years,” Riley Gaines told Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) during an interview on her podcast “Unmuted with Marsha.”

Gaines’s comments refer to NCAA rules that allow transgender women to compete in women’s competitive sports, Fox News noted.

Thomas last month became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship in any sport when she finished first in the 500-yard freestyle race — a moment that many conservatives have criticized as unfair.

Gaines described to Blackburn during the podcast the emotions she felt when she realized she had tied in the 200-yard freestyle with Thomas.

“I touched the wall and saw there was a five by my name indicating that I got fifth … I also looked up, and I saw the number five by Lia’s name and so, in that moment, I realized we tied,” Gaines said. “It was kind of like a flood of emotions. I was extremely happy for the girls above me who conquered what was seemingly impossible by beating Lia.”

She later said that she felt slighted by the NCAA when a fifth-place trophy was only given out to Thomas and she was told hers would be sent in the mail.

“I walked back [to get my trophy] and the NCAA official came up to me, and he said, ‘Hey, that was a great swim. We only have one fifth place trophy,’ which I understood, I get how that works. But he said, ‘We’re going to have to give the trophy to Lia. Yours will be coming in the mail. Great job.’

“And so I don’t think they handled this properly. But I don’t think they were prepared, you know, to handle this kind of situation,” she added.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) earlier this week introduced a bill to honors Emma Weyant, who came in second place to Thomas in the 500-yard freestyle championship last week. 

“Emma Weyant was the fastest woman competing in the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s 500-Yard Freestyle, but her first-place win was stolen by a mediocre man who couldn’t cut it in men’s swimming,” Boebert said in a statement at the time.

Tags LGBTQ rights Lia Thomas Lia Thomas Marsha Blackburn NCAA transgender athletes

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