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Father of Penn swimmer says they have ‘sobering realization’ they will never win against Lia Thomas

The father of one of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas’ University of Pennsylvania teammates has spoken out in an interview where he said that his daughter and her teammates are coming to the realization that they won’t be able to beat her.

This comes days after an anonymous member of the team also spoke out against Thomas, who has continued to dominate events in the Ivy League this season. It is unclear if the two are related. 

This past weekend during an NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, Thomas won the Women’s 100m and Women’s 200m Freestyle races, although the margin’s were far narrower than in previous races she won in 2021. 

The father, who has also chosen to remain anonymous to avoid ‘physical harm’ any backlash could entail and has a ‘medical background,’ told Fox News that he believes there is no stopping Thomas from reaching the highest level.   

‘She is most likely going to be representing you and I and all other Americans at the Olympics,’ he said.

A father of a member of the University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team – who has chosen to remain anoynmous – has spoken out against his daughter’s transgender teammate Lia Thomas

Thomas competes in the 200 meter freestyle during an NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard on Saturday

Thomas competes in the 200 meter freestyle during an NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard on Saturday

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, right, towers over her teammates as she dries off after after warming up with the team before the  NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, right, towers over her teammates as she dries off after after warming up with the team before the  NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, center, competes against Harvard's Erin Cavanagh, left, and Harvard's Felici Passadyn at the start of the women's 200 meter freestyle race during the an NCAA college swimming meet

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, center, competes against Harvard’s Erin Cavanagh, left, and Harvard’s Felici Passadyn at the start of the women’s 200 meter freestyle race during the an NCAA college swimming meet

Thomas came out as transgender in 2019 and under NCAA rules was eligible to switch from the men's team to the women's after taking a year of testosterone suppressants

Thomas came out as transgender in 2019 and under NCAA rules was eligible to switch from the men's team to the women's after taking a year of testosterone suppressants

Thomas came out as transgender in 2019 and under NCAA rules was eligible to switch from the men’s team to the women’s after taking a year of testosterone suppressants

He believes that other families don’t speak out because they think there’s ‘nothing they can do about it’ but he wants to, on behalf of the swimmers and their aspirations.   

‘Part of the reason these little girls get so excited about this is because they see themselves possibly being [at the Olympics],’ he said. ‘There’s a shot that they can do it if they swim hard enough, if they work hard enough, they got it, they can do it. Anybody can do it.’

‘But now what do you say to your daughter? You got Lia up on the blocks, taking a spot from a cisgender woman on the Olympic team,’ he added. ‘How do I tell my daughter that could be you one day? You can’t. You can never be her.’

On Thursday, USA Swimming said that it will release a new policy ‘shortly’ on whether elite trans athletes, like Thomas who competes for an Ivy League school, can compete against biological women.

But her inclusion in the women’s team has been slammed by her teammates, with one this weekend saying that she believes the NCAA are failing to protect her fellow teammates and competitors. 

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas speaks to her coach after winning the 200 meter freestyle during an NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard  on Saturday

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas speaks to her coach after winning the 200 meter freestyle during an NCAA college swimming meet with Harvard  on Saturday

Transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, 22, won two of her races on Saturday although her win's were by narrower margins than of late

Transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, 22, won two of her races on Saturday although her win’s were by narrower margins than of late 

Although her previous wins sparked controversy having smashed several women's records in the pool Saturday's timings were similar to her competitors. The University of Pennsylvania says it will work with the NCAA under its newly adopted standards for transgender athletes

Although her previous wins sparked controversy having smashed several women’s records in the pool Saturday’s timings were similar to her competitors. The University of Pennsylvania says it will work with the NCAA under its newly adopted standards for transgender athletes

‘The top people at NCAA, who are on the board of directors … they are not protecting women’s rights,’ the Penn swimmer said. ‘Imagine if there was this kind of inequality in men’s sports? Or someone found out about doping in a men’s sport. It would be fixed in a blink of an eye. Everyone would be all over it. But because it’s women, they don’t care.’

The father says this lines up with the rest of her cisgender teammates, saying they are ‘very upset.’  

‘My daughter hates it. She doesn’t think it’s fair,’ he said, adding that while his daughter hasn’t personally lost opportunities to compete, ‘other girls have and will, because the coach is going to take the swimmers that score the most amount of points for the team.’

The anonymous father wanted to make it clear that he isn’t transphobic, he’s merely looking to protect the integrity of the sport. 

‘All the swimmers like Lia, she’s a wonderful person and very nice,’ he said, adding that Thomas has been ‘nothing but polite’ about the situation. ‘Lia’s not doing anything against the rules.’

Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas looks on as she celebrates senior day with her teammates during a swim meet back in January

Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas looks on as she celebrates senior day with her teammates during a swim meet back in January

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, center with teammates during warm up laps before a meet with Harvard

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, center with teammates during warm up laps before a meet with Harvard

However, he believes there are hormonal differences in men and women that the NCAA must recognize.  

‘There are so many other hormones that are different in women and men, just like a protein like collagen,’ he said. ‘Collagen is responsible for strength in tendons and ligaments, and it’s responsible for joint stiffness, it’s responsible for all sorts of things. And men and women have completely different levels of the three major types of collagen. So, even with a testosterone limit, the man is going to have an advantage because of his collagen levels and the types of collagen that he has.’

He’s worried Lia will beat the records of Olympic Gold Medalists Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin at the NCAA championships in Atlanta in March.   

‘Lia is going to go to the NCAA’s and she’s going to take down Katie Ledecky’s record, she’s going to take down Missy Franklin’s record, and it’s not because she is an exceptional woman,’ he said. ‘It’s not because she is the pinnacle of female athletics, which Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin are.’     

Thomas’ controversial wins saw the NCAA review its guidelines for male-to-female trans athletes on Wednesday, but the body ultimately washed its hands of the row surrounding transgender athletes in college athletics. 

Under the new guidelines, approved by the NCAA Board of Governors, transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for each sport’s national governing body. In Thomas’ case, this would fall under USA Swimming.

NCAA rules on transgender athletes returned to the forefront when Thomas started smashing records late last year. 

Last month, Thomas put in an astounding performance at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio, where she finished the 1,650-yard freestyle 38 seconds ahead of the next closest finisher, teammate Anna Sofia Kalandaze.

Thomas’s winning time was 15:59:71, with her UPenn teammate Anna Kalandaze coming second with a time of 16:37:44. 

Thomas’s win was a record for the Zippy Meet, and the pool where the event took place. But she also managed to smash two US women’s swimming records during earlier races at the same event. 

The first US record was broken on December 3, when Thomas won the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 4:34:06. She raced to victory 14 seconds ahead of Kalandaze – the swimmer she beat by 38 seconds on Sunday.

The following Saturday, she won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:41:93 – seven seconds ahead of her nearest rival, giving her the fastest female US time ever for that race too.

USA Swimming has announced it will release a new policy 'shortly' on whether elite trans athletes like Ivy League swimmer Lia Thomas can compete against biological women

USA Swimming has announced it will release a new policy 'shortly' on whether elite trans athletes like Ivy League swimmer Lia Thomas can compete against biological women

USA Swimming has announced it will release a new policy ‘shortly’ on whether elite trans athletes like Ivy League swimmer Lia Thomas can compete against biological women

Lia Thomas, circled, is pictured in a post by UPenn Swimming and Diving, captioned: 'Ladies at the beach'

Lia Thomas, circled, is pictured in a post by UPenn Swimming and Diving, captioned: ‘Ladies at the beach’

Pictured: Thomas training with the team at Sailfish Splash Waterpark in Florida earlier this month

Pictured: Thomas training with the team at Sailfish Splash Waterpark in Florida earlier this month

With NCAA taking little decisive action, on Thursday USA Swimming announced it will release a new policy ‘shortly’ on whether elite trans athletes like Ivy League swimmer Thomas can compete against biological women.  

The organization, which oversees more than 360,000 members, released a statement Thursday after the NCAA Board of Governors said they will update their guidelines to follow the wishes of each sport’s governing body.

‘USA Swimming firmly believes in inclusivity and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a manner consistent with their gender identity and expression,’ the statement read.

‘We also strongly believe in competitive equity, and, like many, are doing our best to learn and educate ourselves on the appropriate balance in this space.’

Currently, trans women can compete against any other female athlete if they’ve undergone suppression treatment for a year. But critics say that is insufficient – as evidenced by spectacular wins such as Thomas’ – and that trans athletes retain considerable advantages over female rivals because of their height and musculature.   

Thomas has been blowing women’s swimming records out of the water and there is even a chance she might win national championships and even compete for all-time NCAA records set by Olympic gold medalists Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.    

None of Thomas’ fellow swimmers have voiced their opinion publicly on the matter, but some have spoken out anonymously to air their concerns, saying that Thomas is arrogant, her teammates are upset – and that their coach is just obsessed with winning. 

‘She compares herself to Jackie Robinson. She said she is like the Jackie Robinson of trans sports,’ one of Thomas’ teammates told the Washington Examiner. Robinson was the first black baseball player to compete in the Major League. 

Last week, Thomas, pictured, was crushed twice in a women's swim meet by another transgender competitor who is transitioning from female to male

Last week, Thomas, pictured, was crushed twice in a women’s swim meet by another transgender competitor who is transitioning from female to male

‘She laughs about it and mocks the situation. Instead of caring or showing that she cares about what she’s doing or what she’s doing to her teammates, she’s not sympathetic or empathetic at all. Lia never addressed our team. She never asked if it was OK. She never asked how we felt. She never tried to explain how she feels. She never has said anything to us as a group. She never addressed anything.’ 

Despite setting three school records and two national records, Thomas shrugged off the furor in a recent interview, telling swimming news site SwimSwam: ‘It’s not healthy for me to read it and engage with it at all, and so I don’t, and that’s all I’ll say on that.’

Her teammates have been less accepting of Thomas’s post-transition feats, however. Days after the Zippy International, two swimmers complained anonymously to the media about a ‘lack of fairness’.’They’re having to go behind the blocks knowing no matter what, they do not have the chance to win. I think that it’s really getting to everyone,’ one told OutKick.   


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