My name is Riley Gaines, and you may know my name from the controversy surrounding Lia Thomas, the transgender swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania this past season. 

I raced Lia at the NCAA Championships in March, and we tied for 5th place. At the award ceremony, instead of allowing me to hold the 5th-place trophy, officials gave it to Lia and made me hold the 6th-place trophy. 

I couldn’t believe it! After forcing my fellow female swimmers and I to compete against a biological male at Championships, this was a huge slap in the face… and the last straw for me. 

A day earlier, I watched helplessly as Lia dominated the preliminary round of the 500-yard freestyle. Only the top 16 were allowed to advance to the finals for this race, and Lia took a spot from one of the deserving female swimmers. 

ATLANTA, GA – MARCH 18: University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas dives over the other swimmers during the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I was standing right next to the girl who placed 17th when Lia touched the wall. She just looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘I just got beat by someone who probably didn’t have to try this morning.’

Allowing male-bodied athletes to participate in women’s competitions will destroy the integrity of women’s sports and leave women vulnerable. It’s a total step in the wrong direction.

We must protect the integrity of sports, whether it be male or female. Females have worked way too hard for the past 50 years. 

Speak up for female athletes by contacting USA Swimming today and telling them: men don’t belong in women’s sports.