2022 NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- March 16-19, 2022
- McAuley Aquatic Center, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia (Eastern Daylight Time)
- Prelims 10AM /Finals 6PM
- Short Course Yards (25 yards)
- Championship Central
- Official Psych Sheets
- Live Results
- Live Video (ESPN3): Swimming / Diving
- Thursday morning heat sheets
During the Day 2 prelims session of the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship, protestors who identified themselves as “Save Women’s Sports” gathered outside of the facility and attended the meet as Lia Thomas competed in her first event, the 500 freestyle. Prior to Thomas’s race, I spoke with protestors outside of the McAuley Aquatic Center at Georgia Tech.
The protestors represent “Save Women’s Sports,” which per their informational brochure states, “We are a coalition fighting to preserve sex-based eligibility for female sports.” The group of about 10 women held signs that read “Save Women’s Sports” and “Support Fair Sports for Women and Girls.” The group was also passing out informational brochures to people outside of the aquatics center.
The women that I spoke to, Amy Sousa, Jeanna Hoch, Jennifer Krohn, and Mary Higgins, traveled to Atlanta from the West Coast to protest this swim meet. None of the women have a swimming background. Most representatives from “Save Women’s Sports” self-funded their attendance. At the time of my interview, there were 10 representatives from “Save Women’s Sports” outside of the aquatics center.
Thomas has complied to the NCAA transgender athlete policy, which allows trans women to compete on a women’s team if they’ve completed a minimum of one year of testosterone suppression treatment, and Thomas has been undergoing treatment for the last two and a half years.
The four women I spoke to directly constantly misgendered Thomas throughout the interview.
I asked the women about the use of testosterone suppression regulations for transgender athletes to compete with biologial women. “Women are not a testosterone level,” says Sousa. “We are fully embodied whole human beings right down to our skeletal structure, our heart capacity, and our lung capacity.”
“I know a man when I see one,” says Hoch. “I’m here to protest men in women’s sports and to protest female erasure.”
Thomas is staying at the same hotel as Hoch. The protestor did not speak to Thomas as she was asked by “Save Women’s Sports” founder, Beth Stelzer to maintain her composure and be professional. “[She] is massive. It’s not fair. We did not fight for women’s sports to include men and boys with an identity crisis,” says Hoch.
I asked Hoch about female elite swimmers like Katie Ledecky who is 6’0’ tall, and Missy Franklin who is 6’2” tall, who also often tower over competitors, and if that is considered an unfair advantage. “What does big females have to do with being male?,” asks Hoch. “Why would you compare a woman to women? We don’t have a problem with height, we have a problem with sex.”
The Thursday morning session featured the 500 freestyle, which is University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas’s first race at the meet. Thomas swam in the final heat of prelims, winning the heat and posting the best time of the morning (4:33.82), which is .24 seconds faster than her seed time.
As Thomas stepped on the blocks, someone in McAuley Aquatic Center shouted “cheater.” Thomas finished four-seconds ahead of Brooke Forde (4:38.19), who was 2nd in the heat. There was a noticeably louder clap for Forde when she finished, as opposed to when Thomas touched the wall, winning the heat. Forde posted the 6th fastest time of the morning and will race Thomas again in the A-final. After finishing, Forde reached over the lane line and shook hands with Thomas post-race.
USA Swimming’s new policy requires evidence that the athlete has maintained a testosterone level less than 5 nmol/L for a minimum period of 36 months, and has a second piece of criteria that states there needs to be evidence proving the athlete’s prior physical development as a male does not give them a competitive advantage.
USA Swimming changed its policy surrounding transgender athletes on February 1. On February 10, the NCAA announced that the organization would not adopt USA Swimming’s new policy prior to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Per the old policy, which applies at this meet, trans women are allowed to compete in the women’s division as long as they had a testosterone level of 10 nmol/L or less.
Women’s 500 Freestyle A-Final