Former Kentucky swimming star Riley Gaines slams Lia Thomas’ nomination for NCAA Woman of the Year

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On Friday, Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines criticized the University of Pennsylvania’s decision to nominate Lia Thomas for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

Thomas, who is transgender, became the first trans woman to win Ivy League and NCAA championship titles.

But her prowess in the pool has sparked a heated debate over whether a transgender woman should be allowed to compete in sports against biological women.

Gaines tweeted her opinion, saying the NCAA was rendering the highest honor in collegiate athletics “worthless.”

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Lia Thomas after winning the 500-meter freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta.
(Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“Being the real girl in this photo and also the University of Kentucky nominee for NCAA WOTY is yet another slap in the face for women. First a women’s national title and now a pinnacle award nominee in college athletics “, she wrote in a tweet response to Outkick founder Clay Travis. “The @NCAA has rendered this award worthless.

“This award combines athletic performance with academics, service and character. What character did Thomas show other than pure selfishness and entitlement? Disrespect and disregard for other female athletes in the Thomas interviews are a revelation.”

Gaines was also nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year by the University of Kentucky after finishing her career in the pool. She won three individual SEC conference titles, broke two SEC records, won 12 All-America awards and graduated with summa cum laude honors. She finished behind Thomas in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships earlier this year.

LIA THOMAS NOMINATED BY UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA FOR NCAA ‘WOMAN OF THE YEAR’ AWARD

“This award recognizes not only athletic performance, but also academics, service and character, so to be seen as someone who epitomizes all of these things is extremely humbling,” Gaines said in a press release on the website. school athletics. “I am aware that I have faced a department full of amazing student-athletes, so I am very grateful and always proud to be a Wildcat. I have so much love for the UK and Big Blue Nation .”

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines reacts after finishing tied for fifth in the 200 freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships March 18, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines reacts after finishing tied for fifth in the 200 freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships March 18, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Each NCAA member school nominates a Woman of the Year. Each conference then reviews nominations from its member schools and submits its conference nominee to the NCAA. Applicants who compete in sports not sponsored by their school’s main conference and independent applicants will be sent to a separate application pool and reviewed by a committee.

The organization then identifies the top 30 and from there selects three finalists from each group. From the nine finalists, the NCAA will select a winner.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18, 2022, at McAuley Aquatic Atlanta Center.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18, 2022, at McAuley Aquatic Atlanta Center.
(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Thomas’ appointment comes after FINA, international swimming’s governing body, voted to approve new policies for transgender swimmers.

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines swims the 200 butterfly preliminaries at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 19, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines swims the 200 butterfly preliminaries at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 19, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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The newly approved “gender inclusion policy” only allows swimmers who transitioned before the age of 12 to compete in women’s events.