A group of UPenn swimming parents have penned a letter to the NCAA demanding rule changes be made in light of the recent dominance in the pool from transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, according to DailyMail.com.
The parents “of about 10 swimmers” reportedly sent a letter to the NCAA on December 5, which hasn’t received a response as of yet.
“At stake here is the integrity of women’s sports,” the portion of the letter that was obtained by DailyMail.com says. The entire letter was not available.
“The precedent being set – one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete – is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport. What are the boundaries? How is this in line with the NCAA’s commitment to providing a fair environment for student-athletes?
“It is the responsibility of the NCAA to address the matter with an official statement. As the governing body, it is unfair and irresponsible to leave the onus on Lia, Lia’s teammates, Lia’s coaches, UPenn athletics and the Ivy League. And it is unfair and irresponsible to Lia to allow the media to dictate the narrative without the participation of the NCAA.”
The parents that spoke with DailyMail.com asked not to be identified in fear of repercussions on their children, and one parent explained that some of the swimmers feel the same way.
“The swimmers have mixed feelings,” the parent said. “Many of them want to speak up, but they don’t because they believe they’ll be ostracized.
“Everybody is scared. Parents are also scared that the kids will be harmed. We are paying $80,000 for this school. Their life will be impacted.”
The DailyMail.com report shows that the university responded to the parents by saying they “want to help our community navigate Lia’s success in the pool this winter” and that “Penn Athletics is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes, coaches and staff and we hold true to that commitment today and in the future.”
The parents came together in October when Thomas’ began to put up dominant performances in the pool. Most recently, at the Zippy Invitational in early December, Thomas put up the top time in the naiton in the women’s 200 freestyle (1:41.93) and 500 freestyle (4:34.06), along with the sixth-fastest time of the season in the 1650 free (15:59.71).
“I think that transgender people have a right to compete, but they need to have their own league,” another parent told DailyMail.com. “Being fair to one group of people shouldn’t take rights away from another group, and that’s what’s happening here.
“The NCAA obviously didn’t think much about the rules they set,” they added. “It’s not fair to the women on the team and it’s not fair to Lia as well. She went through transition, and I admire her bravery. But the records she sets now are not valued records, female records.”
The NCAA’s transgender policy currently dictates: “A trans female treated with testosterone suppression medication may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one year of testosterone suppression treatment.”
Thomas has been undergoing hormone replacement therapy since mid-2019, making her eligible to compete on the women’s team.
Last week, an anonymous Penn swimmer spoke to media outlet OutKick regarding Thomas’ presence on the women’s team, claiming that “pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this.”
A few days later a second swimmer spoke anonymously with OutKick, outlining the vibe in the pool when Thomas was competing at the Zippy Invite. The source specifically noted that the crowd was silent after Thomas won the 1650 freestyle, and then after teammate Anna Kalandadze finished second, 38 seconds later, the crowd “erupted in applause.”
“Usually everyone claps, everyone is yelling and cheering when someone wins a race. Lia touched the wall and it was just silent in there,” they said.
SwimSwam has not independently verified that OutKick‘s sources are actually members of the women’s swim team at Penn.