To hear the NCAA tell the story, an average swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania became a nationally ranked superstar overnight. Check the receipts, and we learn Will Thomas only started breaking records and winning meets by comically huge margins when he began going by “Lia” Thomas this past year.
Similar incidents are increasingly happening in various sports at all levels, but swimming offers an especially clear picture of what it means when we allow men to compete against women. Success in swimming is heavily dependent on physiology. The length of the body, the body’s center of gravity, and even the placement of a person’s belly button can mean the difference between an average swimmer and a major competitor. A man can identify however he wants, and can even take dangerous hormone supplements, but his belly button isn’t going anywhere.
This sort of let’s-all-pretend-we-don’t-know-what’s-happening groupthink isn’t good for college sports or for women’s rights. It’s not good for Lia Thomas, his teammates, or his competitors. No matter how fast he swims, no man really breaks a women’s record.