Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas won the 500-meter freestyle finals at the NCAA Championships in Atlanta on Thursday, setting off a firestorm of debate across the country.
Thomas’ win was history in that she became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship.
Now, one college athlete who says she missed out on qualifying for the finals is calling for the NCAA to amend its transgender inclusion policy.
Virginia Tech Swimmer’s Letter Makes Headlines
The swimmer in question is Reka Gyorgy of Virginia Tech, who came in 17th place in the national qualifying event.
Gyorgy would have qualified for the championships if Thomas had not been allowed to compete and win the event.
Following her loss and historic win, Gyorgy wrote a letter to the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and posted it on her Instagram.
“With all due respect, I would like to address something that is a problem in our sport right now and hurting athletes, especially female swimmers,” Gyorgy said, according to screenshots taken and posted by Daily Wire reporter Mary Margaret Olohan.
“Everyone has heard and known about transgender swimmer, Lia Thomas, and her case including all the issues and concerns that her situation brought into our sport.”
She added that she “respect(s) and fully stand(s) with Thomas.”
However, she added that she would like to critique the NCAA rules allowing her to compete against biological women.
“I am convinced that she is no different than me or any other D1 swimmer who has woken up at 5am her entire life for morning practice,” Gyorgy wrote.
“She has sacrificed family vacations and holidays for a competition. She has pushed herself to the limit to be the best athlete she could be. She is doing what she is passionate about and deserves that right,” Gyorgy continues in her letter according to a March 21 report.
“On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biological women.”
Swimmer Feels Her Spot Was Taken From Her by Transgender Swim Champion
Gyorgy competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics and now feels like her spot has been taken from her.
“It feels like the final spot was taken from me because of the NCAA’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete,” the Virginia Tech swimmer said according to screenshots.
“I know you could say I had the opportunity to swim faster and make the top 16, but this situation makes it a bit different and I can’t help but be angry or sad. It hurts me, my team and other women in the pool.”
She added that she hopes the NCAA will change the rules to make it so that only biological females can compete against each other.
“I’m writing this letter right now in hopes that the NCAA will open their eyes and change these rules in the future,” she said.
“It doesn’t promote our sport in a good way and I think it is disrespectful against the biologically female swimmers who are competing in the NCAA.”
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Thomas said she hopes her performances will be used as encouragement for other trans athletes, but added that she is “just a swimmer.”
“I just want to show trans kids and younger trans athletes that they’re not alone,” Thomas said in the interview.
“They don’t have to choose between who they are and the sport they love.”