USA Swimming reaffirmed its support of transgender athlete participation policies in a statement released on Thursday; however, it did not specify the extent of the inclusion in elite competitions.
“USA Swimming firmly believes in inclusivity and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression,” the organization said in a statement on Thursday. “We also strongly believe in competitive equity, and, like many, are doing our best to learn and educate ourselves on the appropriate balance in this space.”
It went on to echo that its policy for non-elite athletes remains unchanged, which allows them to compete in accordance with their gender identity.
“Following broad transgender policy changes in Nov. 2021, the IOC now requires International Federations to create their own sport-specific eligibility requirements, and so we have been proactively working with FINA for several months to help shape and support their policy development efforts. We believe they will release a new policy shortly, which we will adopt for elite-level competitions.”
The statement comes after the NCAA released its new transgender participation policy on Wednesday night. Additionally, Penn Athletics told ESPN’s Katie Barnes Thursday it would work with the NCAA in support of swimmer Lia Thomas as it pertains to Thomas’s participation at the 2022 NCAA swimming and diving championships in Atlanta in March.
Thomas, a transgender woman and a senior, has posted some of the NCAA’s best times for a variety of events, qualifying for the NCAA championships in the women’s 200-yard, 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle events.
The NCAA’s new policy, which is effective immediately, will be a similar model as those used by the U.S. and International Olympic Committees. It will take a sport-by-sport approach to participation that “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”
Per the new policy, transgender athlete participation will now be determined by the national governing body of that particular sport. Additionally, transgender athletes will be required to document sport-specific testosterone levels four weeks before their sport’s championship selections.
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