Finally speaking up, NCAA swimmer wants rule change after missing out on finals to Lia Thomas

Following the performance by University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a Virginia Tech swimmer called out the NCAA rules on transgender women in the sport.

Reka Gyorgy failed to qualify in the finals of the 500 free at the NCAA Championships last week, finishing in 17th place behind Thomas. The transgender swimmer finished with a 4:33.82 in the preliminaries, getting the last spot in the finals, and ultimately went on to win the national women’s 500 free title.

Gyorgy took to her Instagram account to post the letter she wrote to the NCAA, criticizing the rules that allow transgender women to compete against biological females.

“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, a Hungarian athlete who competed in the 2016 Olympics, began.

“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. I’d like to point out that I respect and fully stand with Lia Thomas; 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. 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,” the 25-year-old wrote.

“On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women,” Gyorgy, a two-time NACC champion and two-time All-American swimmer continued.

“I’m writing this letter right now in hopes that the NCAA will open their eyes and change these rules in the future. 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,” she contended, saying she felt that last spot in the finals was effectively “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,” she wrote. “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.”

“Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet,” Gyorgy pointed out.

She went on to note that the NCAA “knew what was coming this past week” as so much of the attention on the NCAA Championships focused on Thomas and the transgender debate.

“Thursday was not a specific athlete’s fault, it is the result of the NCAA and their lack of interest in protecting their athletes,” Gyorgy wrote, concluding her letter by urging the NCAA to “make the right changes.”

“I ask that the NCAA takes time to think about all the other biological women in swimming, try to think how they would feel if they would be in our shoes,” she wrote. “Make the right changes for our sport and for a better future in swimming.”

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