I earned a full scholarship to swim at the University of Toledo in Ohio and swam successfully on the team from 1998-2002. I was a 100 and 200 freestyler, transformed into a 100 and 200 butterflyer because all butterfly girls on my team had shoulder injuries. Coach asked me to step up and I did.

The men’s team is now gone, but the women’s program is still going strong at the university. There’s a reason we did not even share lanes or workouts with male swimmers. Our practice times were the same, but our workouts were different and lanes as well because men are just physically stronger, bigger and faster. It makes zero sense and made zero sense then for us to practice together.

I can’t even imagine competing today as these amazing women are. I’d be right there with Riley and all the other ladies in this battle. I may not have shown as much grace and patience as these ladies are today. I can imagine myself throwing fits on the pool deck if a man stepped up to swim against me. I applaud these incredibly strong women. If there’s any way I can help them fight and stand up with them, I will. I’m there.