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Lia Thomas Competitor Reacts To Swimming's Transgender Decision

Lia Thomas at the NCAA Championships

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MARCH 18: Lia Thomas looks on from the podium after finishing fifth in the 200 Yard Freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology on March 18, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

A new "gender inclusion policy" was passed by FINA on Sunday. The policy will prohibit transgender athletes who transitioned after the age of 12 from competing against women. 

University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas and tied her for fifth in the 200 freestyle finals at the NCAA Championships, a step in the right direction for the sport in an interview with Dana Perino of Fox News.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction," Gaines told co-host Dana Perino. "I think this is kind of the first large governing body that has prioritized fairness in women's sports, and so while it's not everything, it's definitely a bold first step and a step in the right direction."

She added, "This is something that women have fought so hard for, for so long, 50 years to get equal opportunities and to have that kind of taken from you and to go a complete 180 from that, it's really just a slap in the face, not only for myself, but like I mentioned, past female athletes and definitely future female athletes as well."

FINA's ruling would have banned Thomas, who transitioned after the age of 12, from competing in women's swimming at Penn. 

Gaines went on to say having to compete against transgender swimmers put swimmers like herself at a disadvantage. 

"It's a huge time commitment," Gaines added. "You're practicing over 20 hours every week. You're in the water 5 hours almost every single day, and so it's a huge time commitment and to go into a meet knowing pretty much you're going to lose and to already kind of be defeated…"

"It takes a big toll on you."