Controversial transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas is once again looking like a favorite to bury the competition after setting yet another record during the NCAA championship prelims in Atlanta.
Thomas destroyed the competition again in the 500 freestyle prelims Thursday with a 4:33.82 final, a new top time in the nation, Outkick reported.
Lia Thomas goes 4:33:82 in the 500 prelims at the NCAA Championships which is a new top time in the nation this year.
Pat Forde’s Olympian daughter has her work cut out for her later tonight in the finals. pic.twitter.com/QLbsHgMDKB
— Joe Kinsey (@JoeKinseyexp) March 17, 2022
The controversial swimmer’s inclusion in the event was not without protests. As ESPN noted, a group waving signs protested outside Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center. Some of the signs read, “Support fair sports for women and girls,” and “That man is a cheat.”
Denver resident and mother of two daughters Jeanna Hoch told ESPN that she traveled to Atlanta to support women’s sports. “I came to support women and girls. They do not have the same opportunities that I had. There is no single-sex competition anymore,” she said.
Thomas is not the only high-profile competitor at this year’s championships. Olympian Brooke Forde, who swam for Stanford, is also competing this year. Forde won the silver at the Tokyo Games with the American 4×200-meter freestyle relay team.
Trans swimmer Lia Thomas. (Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Forde’s father, Pat, recently said he is not so sure it is fair that Lia Thomas — who was born a man and has still not undergone any surgical alterations to his genitalia — is competing against biological females.
“People don’t necessarily have to agree. I’m not sure I agree completely because I’m not sure this is a level playing field,” Pat Forde said in January, Outkick noted. “My daughter’s thing is, ‘I’m the one who has to get into the pool with her, and I’m fine with it,’ so I think some people could take a good lesson from that.”
Indeed, the Forde family recently released a statement in Brooke’s name addressing the fact that Brooke would be competing against the biologically male Thomas.
I have great respect for Lia. Social change is always a slow and difficult process and we rarely get it correct right away. Being among the first to lead such a social change requires an enormous amount of courage, and I admire Lia for her leadership that will undoubtedly benefit many trans athletes in the future.
In 2020, I along with most swimmers, experienced what it was like to have my chance to achieve my swimming goals taken away after years of hard work. I would not wish this experience on anyone, especially Lia, who has followed the rules required of her. I believe that treating people with respect and dignity is more important than any trophy or record will ever be, which is why I will not have a problem racing against Lia at NCAAs this year.
Pat Forde also wondered if there would be a time when transgender athletes only compete against other transgender athletes. But he also felt that the whole discussion is a surrogate for politics.
“It is funny. Some of the folks who are really wound up about this and screaming about the fairness about women’s sports really don’t give a damn about women’s sports,” Pat Forde exclaimed, according to Yahoo Sports. “They are using this as a political wedge issue, and they are using it as a sign the country has absolutely run amok and has lost its mind to political correctness and blah blah blah. There are a lot of political opinions about this, but some of them are cloaked, I think, in bogus terms.”
Still, a “bogus” debate or not, Thomas has been obliterating records set by generations of female swimmers since leaving UPenn’s men’s team and joining the women’s team after claiming to have “transitioned” to become a woman.
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