Penn swimmer Lia Thomas didn’t dominate the NCAA championships. That hasn’t stopped the debate over trans athletes.

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Daily News | Penn swimmer Lia Thomas didn’t dominate the NCAA championships. That hasn’t stopped the debate over trans athletes.

It was other women who dominated the meet, held at Georgia Institute of Technology. University of Virginia swimmers won 11 out of 18 events, and were. Junior Kate Douglass left with eight national titles, and broke three American records in three different strokes, an astonishing and never-before-seen feat.

But in reality, Thomas is an outlier, a rare culmination of extenuating circumstances. And with more stringent eligibility policies for trans athletes on the horizon, the likelihood that another trans woman competes in college swimming, let alone dominates, is highly unlikely. “It means the world to be here, be with two of my best friends and teammates, and be able to compete,” she said.

But that wasn’t easy in Atlanta. Thursday afternoon, ahead of the 500-freestyle finals, Thomas and Luxemburg were in the lobby of their hotel, preparing to head to the pool. Thomas had her headphones on, mentally preparing for her race, when a man came up to them, she said. On the pool deck, the other swimmers appeared to treat Thomas like any other competitor. Some disagreed with her being there — on Sunday a Virginia Tech senior— but there was no palpable tension between the athletes. Some of Thomas’ top competitors, like Erica Sullivan and Brooke Forde, even said they supported her competing.

Almost all parents told The Inquirer they supported Thomas’ right to compete, just not in the women’s category. Most said that it’s not about whether Thomas wins or loses, but the principle of an unfair advantage. Some expressed fear that another trans woman could come after Thomas andFour parents interviewed by The Inquirer said that Thomas’ not winning every event didn’t change anything.

“I have a son... and if he were going through the same thing, I would hope that people could be supportive and cheer and love,” Sophia Ruck said.But Colin Ruck, Taylor Ruck’s father, said he supports Thomas’ right to compete, “to dream and succeed in life,” but not in the women’s category.A woman named Christine, whose daughter swims for the University of Louisville and who declined to give her last name, said she struggled to form an opinion.

 

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Maybe he's backing off to slow the rhetoric

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