Lia Thomas rival expresses 'extreme discomfort' at having to change next to someone 'who has different parts'
Riley Gaines said she "doesn't think it's right in any means" to change in a locker room with "someone who has different parts"
A rival of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has expressed her “extreme discomfort” at having to get changed next to her.
Thomas becoming the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming title sparked outrage earlier this year.
Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who competed against Thomas, said she was not informed the trans athlete would be using the women’s changing rooms.
Ms Gaines said: “That's not something we were forewarned about, which I don't think is right in any means, changing in a locker room with someone who has different parts.
“So not only were we forced to race against a male, we were forced to change in the locker room with one.
“And so then we're sitting there not even knowing who to talk to, who to complain to, because this kind of all happened behind the scenes and very discreetly.”
She continued, adding that she first discovered Thomas in November 2021: “Your better swimmers know of your better swimmers regardless of what school or what conference you're at.
“You compete internationally together. Even if you're not on the same collegiate team, you've probably been on teams together before.
“All of a sudden, out of nowhere, there's this article posted that says, ‘Lia Thomas, swimmer at UPenn, posts 1.41 200m freestyle,’ which is a very, very fast time.”
Ms Gaines then discovered that Thomas had previously been competing in male categories.
She told Fox News: “I kind of just went about my training because I was like, this is a good thing maybe.
“But, turns out, two weeks before our national championships, the NCAA announced Lia will be competing with the females, and I was just like, mind blown.
“I think people forget that women's sports were a protected group. The category was made because the playing field was not level by any means when you have them competing against men.”
After meeting up at Georgia Tech University for the championships, Ms Gaines described the atmosphere as “nothing like I've ever seen before.”
"People didn't really know what to say, who to say what to, how to feel. Obviously, I know how I felt and I knew how my teammates felt, but no one really wanted to talk about it."
"That next day we came back and the mood had shifted to where people were mad.
"There were tears, these poor ninth and seventeenth-place finishers who missed out on being named an all-American.
Thomas, and other transgender athletes, have since been banned from swimming events by the NCAA.