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After losing finals spot to Lia Thomas, swimmer speaks out: ‘change these rules’

‘Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet’

Reka Gyorgy, a former Olympian and Virginia Tech swimmer who finished in 17th place in the qualifiers for the 500-yard freestyle event at the NCAA Championships last week and thus did not make the cut to compete in the finals, is speaking out about the association’s transgender policy.

She wrote a letter to the NCAA and posted it to her private Instagram account Sunday, a memo that was quickly copied and disseminated widely.

It takes issue with the decision to allow transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas to compete alongside biological female swimmers at the NCAA championships.

At the top of her letter, Gyorgy asks that those who report on it release it in full. The College Fix has honored that request and reprinted her letter below in full:

I would like to address these past week’s events and express my thoughts. First, I would like to remind everyone that I am a human being and that as a human being I experience feelings and emotions.

My name is Reka Gyorgy from Hungary. I am a 2016 Rio Olympian, represented Virginia Tech for the past five years, a 2 time ACC Champion, 2 time All-American, and 3 time Honorable Mention All-American.

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. Everyone has heard and known about transgender, 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. On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women.

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.

I swam the 500 free at NCAA’s on March 17th, 2022, where I got 17th, which means I didn’t make it back to the finals and was first alternate. I’m a 5th year senior, I have been top 16 and top 8 before and I know how much of a privilege it is to make finals at a meet this big.

This is my last college meet ever and I feel frustrated. It feels like that final spot was taken away from me because of the NCAA’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete. 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.

One spot was taken away from the girl who got 9th in the 500 free and didn’t make it back to the A final, preventing her from being an All-American. Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet.

Fox News reports that Thomas finished with a time of 4:33.82 in the preliminaries and later became a national champion, winning the 500-yard freestyle event with a time of 4:33.24, a program-record time for Penn.

The University of Virginia’s Emma Weyant finished in second at 4:34.99. Many observers crowned her the real first-place winner.

Gyorgy’s statement has been billed as the first NCAA championship swimmer to speak out publicly on the record against Thomas’s participation. Ivy League parents are fearful to speak out publicly.

Some are also reportedly being told to stay quiet. National Review reports that one swim mom said her daughter and her teammates “are being quieted,” adding, “The coaches won’t talk with them about it. . . . They’re essentially saying smile, shut up, and step aside.”

MORE: Ivy League parents fearful to speak out publicly as Lia Thomas dominates their daughters

IMAGE: Virginia Tech

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.