‘Punch In The Gut’: Former NCAA Swimmer Decries Lia Thomas’ ‘Woman Of The Year’ Nomination

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines decried University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas being nominated for the NCAA “Woman of the Year” award.

Gaines, also nominated for the award, called Thomas’ nomination a “mockery” to the women athletes who have “dedicated their whole lives” to compete.

“It’s an insult, it’s incredibly disheartening and, quite frankly, it’s wrong,” Gaines told Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson on Monday. “We have an NCAA ‘Woman of the Year’ who has spent 95% of their life as a male, it doesn’t add up. It’s incredibly insulting. Think of all the deserving female athletes who did not get this nomination and Thomas did after quite literally after one year. Woman of the Year, it makes sense because it’s been one year Thomas has spent as a female.”

“It’s insulting. It’s a punch in the gut, it’s a slap to the face and it’s a total regression of what Title IX stands for,” she continued.


University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) nominated Thomas for the 2022 NCAA “Woman of the Year” award Thursday after the transgender swimmer dominated the sport in the 2021-22 season. Thomas defeated the female competitors at the March 17 NCAA Women’s Championships by 1.75 seconds. (RELATED: ‘Slap In The Face’: Daily Caller’s Kay Smythe Rips Lia Thomas’ ‘Woman Of The Year’ Nomination) 

Gaines said she received a letter Monday from the NCAA claiming Thomas’ nomination is “rooted in Title IX.” The letter stated that it will “honor incredible women and reflect the impact of women on intercollegiate sports” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, according to Gaines.

“I just laughed because that’s what we’re doing at this point, is laughing at women,” she said.

Carlson distinguished between the University of Kentucky, which he said “has taken a stand for biology,” and UPenn, which he said has moved to oppose biological facts.

Gaines recently called Thomas’ nomination a “slap in the face to women” on Twitter, claiming the award is “useless” by allowing a biological male to be a contender.

“Being the real girl in that photo and also University of Kentucky’s nominee for NCAA WOTY, this is yet another slap in the face to women,” she said. “First a female national title and now nominated for the pinnacle award in collegiate athletics. The @NCAA has made this award worthless.”

Sixteen women on the UPenn swim team reportedly said in a February letter that Thomas should not be permitted to compete in the women’s category, arguing the swimmer had an unfair advantage in the sport. When competing against other men, Thomas ranked #462, whereas the swimmer was #1 after joining the women’s competition, the letter said.

“If she were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women’s Swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete,” the letter said.

FINA, the governing body for international swimming, banned nearly all biological males from women’s sports in its eligibility policy released in June. The policy requires males to have undergone transitioning therapy and have faced no puberty symptoms before age 12.

President Joe Biden’s administration recently proposed revisions to Title IX regulations to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity, meaning a public school could lose federal funding if a biological male is blocked from participating in a women’s competition.