Swimmer Who Raced Lia Thomas Says UPenn Team Members Thanked Her for Speaking Out

A female University of Kentucky swimmer who competed against transgender athlete Lia Thomas’s participation in women’s swimming said Wednesday that many University of Pennsylvania team members expressed their gratitude for her advocacy for fairness in women’s sports.

“I actually had a ton of Lia Thomas’ teammates reach out to me personally, and thank me for what I’m doing because this is something they deal with every single day,” Riley Gaines said, alongside Senator Rand Paul, during an appearance on Fox and Friends. “But of course, they’re intimidated, they’re threatened, they’re emotionally blackmailed.”

Gaines, who tied with Thomas in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA’s women championship, said the Ivy League rebuffed her and other female swimmers’ concerns about having a man in their private women’s spaces and racing events.

“One of those examples being an email sent to the Ivy League swimmer saying that if you feel uncomfortable changing in an area where you will see male genitalia, here are some resources, and you should seek counseling,” she said.

Gaines will be involved in new ad for Paul’s reelection campaign raising awareness for the ongoing assaults against women’s sports. He said it’s not a partisan issue so much as a meritocracy issue about preserving women’s opportunities to compete on a fair playing field.

“I think there’s actually sort of a silent growing number of women who are moderate or independent or even liberal, that have daughters who compete in soccer and swimming and all these different sports who are like, this just isn’t fair,” Paul said on the program. “This is a fairness issue.”

“My wife always says, where are the feminists on this issue? And there are some, but they’re few and far between because the liberal media runs over you and says you’re a hater,” he continued. “And this isn’t about hate, this is about fairness.”

Republican Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt has also hit the campaign trail with Gaines, who appeared at a news conference with him recently. Gaines was featured in a spot from the Republican Governors Association.

Schmidt’s opponent, incumbent Democratic Kansas governor Laura Kelly, backtracked on her position on on male participation in women’s sports and portrayed herself as a moderate, releasing an ad last week that said, “You have seen my opponent’s attacks. So let me just say it: Of course men should not play girls sports. Okay, we all agree there.” However, in 2021 and 2022, Kelly vetoed bills that would prevent men from participating in girl’s K-12 and collegiate sports.

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