Gov. DeSantis Proclaims Floridian Swimmer As NCAA Women’s Swimming Champ, Not Transgender Athlete Lia Thomas

Toby Hazlewood

Florida recognizes the 'fastest woman swimmer' as the champion

Last week at an NCAA swim meet in Atlanta, transgender athlete Lia Thomas claimed victory in the women's 500 yards freestyle by a margin of over one second, swimming for Penn State. Her win has attracted a lot of controversy and criticism.

On March 22, Governor DeSantis took decisive action to address the issue when he published a formal proclamation that the state of Florida recognizes the true champion to be Emma Weyant who was swimming for the University of Virginia, and who hails from Sarasota.

Weyant was forced into second place by Thomas in the finals of that race.

The governor spoke at a press conference, acknowledging that Weyant had logged the "fastest time among all women swimmers" and accordingly, was being recognized by the state of Florida as the winner of the race.

The statement will no doubt attract further controversy for Gov. DeSantis but some of his most ardent critics still seem to agree with the governor on this issue, judging by comments on social media.

A matter of biology over ideology?

The governor spoke plainly of how he sees this issue - and it's the reason why last year Florida put in place the 'Fairness in Women's Sport' act. Commenting on the recent NCAA competition, the governor had this to say:

"Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and it is wrong to allow ideology to erode these opportunities as is happening in other states, and the preservation of women-specific athletics teams or sports is necessary to promote equality of athletic opportunities."

It would seem then that this isn't merely about claiming a win for a Floridian athlete, but also about a wider issue - how Florida perceives fairness in sports.

More than a matter of 'woke politics'

Governor DeSantis has recently described the free state of Florida as the place "where 'woke' goes to die" but this issue is about more than partisan politics.

In a poolside interview following the race, Lia Thomas, the transgender swimmer addressed criticisms and negative feedback by claiming that she tries to just ignore it.

Meanwhile, an unnamed female competitor from Virginia Tech spoke out over how her teammate missed a place in the final heats having been bumped out by Thomas.

As she put it:

"It's hard to compete against someone with has the aerobic capacity, the muscle development the body development of a man - it's hard."

It seems likely that there will be further controversy regarding this matter as the days go on.

What seems particularly clear is that while there may be certain sports where genetic male and female athletes can compete fairly, in the swimming pool this seems less feasible, regardless of how an athlete chooses to identify.

What do you think about the issue of transgender athletes competing at the highest level? Are you in favor of the governor's statement? Let me know in the comments section below.

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