A teammate of a transgender college swimmer has spoken out on the controversy surrounding her colleague and accused their coach of prioritizing victory over fairness.
Lia Thomas currently competes for Penn State but had previously featured in the male NCAA Division I competition swim team as Will for three years at the university.
As Lia, Thomas has smashed a string of records with three broken at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio, this past weekend alone.
In the 1,650-yard freestyle, Thomas set a competition record with a 15:59.71 time that was 38 seconds faster than her teammate Anna Kalandadze.
In the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyles, she broke US records with times of 4:34.06 and 1:41.93 respectively.
Thomas’ very presence in female competitions has caused outrage and sparked widespread debate.
Providing fuel to those against her participation, one of her colleagues has claimed that team support for Thomas is “very fake” with their coach Mike Schnur appearing to prioritize victory above fairness.
“Pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this,” remarked the girl to Outkick, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Our coach just really likes winning. He’s like most coaches. I think secretly everyone just knows it’s the wrong thing to do.”
While Thomas has separately claimed that her teammates and coaches have been “unbelievably supportive since the beginning” with Schnur “one of my biggest supporters and allies in this process since day one”, the teammate has stated that the support from colleagues is put on.
Hats off to Lia Thomas (right) for breaking all these records in women's swimming competitions. I just wish we knew what her secret was so every athlete could be as talented. #UPenn pic.twitter.com/QgloR405b9
— Brandon Morse (@TheBrandonMorse) December 7, 2021
“When the whole team is together, we have to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, go Lia, that’s great, you’re amazing’. It’s very fake,” she revealed.
“The Ivy League is not a fast league for swimming, so that’s why it’s particularly ridiculous that we could potentially have an NCAA champion. That’s unheard of coming from the Ivy League,” she continued, as per Thomas’ achievements.
“On paper, if Lia Thomas gets back down to Will Thomas’ best times, those numbers are female world records. Faster than all the times [seven-time Olympic champion swimmer] Katie Ledecky went in college. Faster than any other Olympian you can think of. His times in three events are [female] world records.”
How can people justify this? This is a man. He should be ashamed of himself. pic.twitter.com/DMkW7s7fcJ
— Garbage Baggins (@GarbageBaggins) November 30, 2021
Perhaps with an eye on Paris 2024, Thomas welcomed new IOC guidelines tipped to be brought in after February’s Winter Olympics in her own interview on Thursday.
“I think the guidelines they set forward are very good and do a very good job of promoting inclusivity while keeping competitional integrity going,” she said of the proposals, which suggest it should not be presumed trans women have automatic advantages over other females.
“Each sport basically has to come up with eligibility criteria for what constitutes an unfair advantage in that sport,” Thomas explained.
“Everybody is able to compete in the category they’re most comfortable with unless there’s a proven unfair advantage that they have.”
UPenn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas says it's completely fair to compete against women:
“Everybody is able to compete in the category they’re most comfortable with unless there’s a proven unfair advantage that they have.” pic.twitter.com/JGzeUZ0SnG
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 9, 2021
At present, NCAA rules dictate that any athlete who wishes to switch from male to female competition needs to have completed a least a year’s worth of testosterone suppression to participate.
But according to the unnamed teammate, “one year doesn’t mean anything”.
“What about the years of puberty as a male, the male growth you went through as a man?” she asked.
“There are a bunch of comments on the internet about how, ‘Oh, these girls are just letting this happen. They should just boycott or protest.’
Source: Penn swimmers were 'strongly advised' by school administration to avoid talking to the media & told during a meeting that it's a non-negotiable, Lia Thomas will be swimming for Penn. https://t.co/IPpUhI2EP3
— Joe Kinsey (@JoeKinseyexp) December 9, 2021
“At the end of the day, it’s an individual sport. If we protest it, we’re only hurting ourselves because we’re going to miss out on all that we’ve been working for,” it was stressed.
“When I have kids, I kinda hope they’re all boys because if I have any girls that want to play sports in college, good luck. [Their rivals] are all going to be biological men saying that they’re women.
“Right now we have one, but what if we had three on the team? There’d be three less girls competing,” it was concluded.