ATLANTA, GA. — The father of a swimmer competing at the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship described watching transgender athlete Lia Thomas dominating female swimmers as “unfair” and “soul crushing.”
The transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer clocked in at 4:33:24 in the women’s 500 freestyle finals Thursday evening, finishing first ahead of the University of Virginia’s Emma Weyant, a freshman.
Thomas will compete in the women’s 200 freestyle Friday evening and the 100 freestyle on Saturday. The transgender swimmer is slated to finish second in the 200 freestyle and tenth in the 100 freestyle.
“I just don’t think it’s fair,” said the father of a swimmer from Virginia who asked not to be identified in order to preserve his daughter’s anonymity. “These young ladies have worked too hard to be treated like that.”
The dad expressed concerns in an interview with The Daily Wire that weighing in publicly on controversy over Thomas would embroil his daughter in criticism that might endanger her future job prospects.
While some onlookers cheered as the transgender athlete was announced the winner on Thursday evening, the stands also resonated with a chorus of boos and yells.
The Virginia dad said that it has been “incredibly obvious” from where he has been sitting in the stands that parents “don’t appear to be supportive of Lia Thomas.”
“It happened several times yesterday when he finished, when he touched the wall and finished,” the father explained. “Nobody clapped, really. When the second place person came in, the place exploded.”
“You saw the same thing on the podium,” he added. “You know, everybody cheered loudly for the second place finisher, the girl. And not very many people clapped for the champion.”
The transgender swimmer’s presence is noticeable on the pool deck — aside from the fact that Thomas stands taller than many of the swimmers, the athlete also clearly has male anatomy.
“Soul crushing would be not an understatement,” said the father, asked how it felt to watch Thomas win over a pool of biological women.
“I can look at swimmers and tell whether they’re really good,” he said, noting that he doesn’t believe Thomas is exerting as much effort as the female swimmers are. “And I don’t think that [Thomas] is having to put out as much as the girls are put out to compete as well.”
“They’re going out there doing it all and and they’re leaving it all in the pool as it were,” the father continued. “And I just don’t see that that he’s having to do the same thing.”
One consistent criticism of transgender athletes in women’s spaces has been that biological males should not be present or be changing in women’s locker rooms.
The Virginia dad said he doesn’t know anything firsthand about Thomas and locker rooms, but emphasized that he believes “males should be in a male locker room and biological females should be in a female locker room.”
“I’m not comfortable with my daughter being in a locker room with male,” he said. “I think that’s wrong and disgusting.”
He described the years of dedication and time that his daughter, who will compete against Thomas during the NCAA championship, has put into becoming a swimmer worthy of such a championship.
“I drove nine hours to clap for my daughter for a little under 22 seconds,” he chuckled.
Asked if he thinks the work was worth it: “Absolutely. Every bit of it. She’s an amazing young lady, and I’m excited for her future.”