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Swimmer Who Tied With Lia Thomas Says 'Large Majority' Of Athletes Think Her Competing Is Totally Wrong

Swimmer Who Tied With Lia Thomas Says 'Large Majority' Of Athletes Think Her Competing Is Totally Wrong

Riley Gaines recently tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA swimming championships

A Kentucky swimmer who tied with Lia Thomas has said the 'large majority' of athletes think her competing shouldn't be allowed.  

Three years prior to transitioning, she competed on the men's swimming team, but she's since joined the University of Pennsylvania’s women's team, with her dominance in competitions sparking debate about eligibility.

Riley Gaines, who recently tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA swimming championships, has criticised swimming officials for allowing her to compete.

Lia Thomas competing in January.

Last week, she took aim at NCAA officials rather than Thomas herself, saying it's 'the rules put in place' that are upsetting swimmers.

In a new interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News, Gaines further discussed how the NCAA 'handled everything extremely poorly' at the championships and claimed fellow competitors have been told 'they're not allowed to talk about' Thomas.

She said: "I know just talking to tons, and tons of NCAA swimmers that their athletic directors, their media people and their coaches or other outside influencers have told them, 'Don't say anything, just avoid the situation, save face a little bit'.

"But I'm just fortunate enough to have such an amazing support system at the University of Kentucky, whether that be from the athletic director all the way down to my head coach.

"But just speaking for them it's just totally wrong. I know I can't speak for everyone but I'm almost certain that I'm speaking for large majority of female athletes and this is just not okay. And it's not fair."

Gaines said she and other competitors are 'dealing with something that's completely out of our control when we're racing' transgender people, 'whether they have different lung capacities, their height, testosterone levels, whether they've used testosterone blockers are not'.

"It doesn't suppress going through puberty as a male. Especially Lia who swam for three years as a male. It's completely unfair and it's a matter of equity really."

Not only did Thomas tie for fifth place, as opposed to coming in first, but recent research indicated she doesn't have any advantage over cisgender women. She also swam within current NCAA guidelines for trans competitors.

Gaines also recalled having to pose with a sixth place trophy, as there was only one available and it was given to Thomas.

She said: "I was shocked because all the other swimmers who were standing by listening to this were also shocked and standing right next to Lia and she heard it all.

'It is kind of just really baffling that this could happen and I know the NCAA wasn't prepared for situation like this – when they were faced with it they protected such a small minority.'

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Featured Image Credit: Credit: Fox News/Alamy

Topics: Sport, LGBTQ, US News