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University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas — a male who used to go by “Will,” but now claims transgender identity and competes on the women’s team — won multiple titles at the Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships over the weekend. Beyond setting a meet record in the 200-yard freestyle by a margin of nearly three seconds, Thomas clinched a pool record for the 500-yard freestyle.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Wire, one of Thomas’ female teammates reacted to the controversial athlete’s victories.
Choosing to remain anonymous, the swimmer began by suggesting that Thomas’ ability to vastly outcompete female athletes drains the competition of its excitement.
“For a lot of the other girls on our team who are really talented … if they win the race, it would be a question whether they would win. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, they got first and we weren’t sure if they were going to beat that girl from Harvard, or that girl from Princeton.’ But with Lia, we went into the meet knowing that she was going to win all of these events. It’s kind of when you know the outcome already, it’s not so exciting when it does eventually happen.”
When asked about the reaction of her teammates to Thomas’ success, the swimmer noted that her peers feel that something is amiss. “Obviously Lia’s performance gets us points for the championship to beat the other Ivy League schools, so I think part of that is people being excited that there’s points on the line. But I definitely do see certain people being more excited for other members of our team having equivalent performances at their own events than when Lia does.”
“I think there’s just so much controversy around whether or not she should be even allowed to do this, so I think a lot of people are a little bit more quiet when she does win.”
The swimmer also observed that the women who placed behind Thomas feel they have been slighted.
“I think that there’s not really room for anyone to react to this situation in any way, other than saying they think it’s really progressive and the right thing,” said the swimmer, referring to the environment of censorship at Ivy League universities. “The one thing I will say is if you want to tune into the livestreams and watch these podiums — not just the races, the podiums — and you look at the faces of the girls who are second, third … you see a smile, but they can only hold it up for so long. You can kind of see a little bit of sadness knowing that maybe they would be first.”
In her own experience, the swimmer has been faced with accusations of “transphobia” for speaking about the differences between men and women in athletic domains — a reality that could jeopardize her post-graduation goals.
“The biggest thing for me is that a lot of people … throw the word ‘transphobic’ out when you’re talking about this. I’m actually in the process of trying to find jobs and things like that. So when you do that, employers may look you up, and if they find that you have these opinions, they may be inclined to not hire you because you’re ‘transphobic,’ and that may mean you’re a bunch of other things that make you unhirable,” she explained. “So, I think that’s the biggest thing, but also I think people having your name out there with an opinion, it’s very scary.”
“That is the biggest thing that scares me and some of my other teammates who have come forward on this stuff. But again, I think it would be more powerful if we could have the room to come out and say our name without being attacked and maligned by people who have a different opinion than we do.”
This article has been revised for clarity.
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