USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport that oversees more than 360,000 members, released a statement Thursday on its transgender athlete policy that aimed to strike a balance between inclusivity and “competitive equity.”
The statement was posted on Instagram and the organization said it is doing its best “to learn and educate ourselves on the appropriate balance in this space.”
The organization said it has already implemented inclusion procedures that allow non-elite athletes to compete in a category that is consistent with their gender identity.
Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers smiles after winning the 200 meter freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
The statement pointed to the International Olympic Committee guidelines on transgender participation, which was called ‘groundbreaking” last November. The IOC now requires Sports federation, or FINA, to create its own “sport-specific eligibility requirements” in regards to transgender competitors.
USA Swimming says it has been “proactively working with FINA for several months to help shape and support their policy development efforts.” The sports body is expected to release a new policy that USA Swimming will adopt as its own.
The rules came into the national spotlight after to the emergence of Penn’s Lia Thomas. She started breaking Ivy League records with national records in the crosshairs. She was on the men’s team for her first three years but started on the Quakers’ women’s team this season after transitioning.
Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers gets ready to compete in a freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Her success this year ignited criticism over allowing transgender women to compete against biological females. Women’s sports advocates and parents at Penn have recently spoken out against the NCAA and its rules on transgender student-athlete participation.
On Wednesday, the NCAA announced a policy change regarding transgender athletes.
Under the new guidelines, approved by the NCAA Board of Governors on Wednesday, transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for the sport’s national governing body, subject to review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the Board of Governors.
When there is no national governing body, that sport’s international federation policy would be in place. If there is no international federation policy, previously established IOC policy criteria would take over.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos, Lawrence Richard and the Associated Press contributed to this report