According to many, letting males into female sports hasn’t gone swimmingly.
Relatively few seemed willing to initially challenge the allowance, but that appears to be changing.
And now, there’s something official from an alliance of coaches.
If you’re unfamiliar with the World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA), per its website, the Texas-based group represents “the interests of the world’s swimming coaches with other national and international bodies or organizations, including [the International Swimming Federation (FINA)].”
A few of WSCA’s stated interests:
- Providing continual recognition for outstanding performances of Swimmers, Coaches, Scientists within the sport of swimming.
- Recommending the coordination and standardization of Rules and Regulations to Governing Bodies in the Sport of Swimming, including FINA and Continental Swimming Organizations.
- Ensuring compliance with the WSCA rules and by-laws, as amended from time to time.
- Encouraging and promoting swimming competition throughout the world, free of drugs, doping or any other method of performance enhancement.
As for that last one, you’re no doubt aware of biological male Lia Thomas, who — according to Swimming World — “soared from a mid-500s ranking (554th in the 200 freestyle; all divisions) in men’s competition to one of the top-ranked swimmers in women’s competition.”
Lia Thomas is the @IvyLeague champion in the 500 free. Her time of 4:37.32 is a new pool record.
— Penn Swimming & Diving (@PennSwimDive) February 17, 2022
“It means the world to be here.”
Lia Thomas spoke about swimming in the NCAA women’s championships. pic.twitter.com/aP0afVA0KE
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 18, 2022
Much has been made of such a champion, leading to a statement released by WSCA. The coaches have an all-new recommendation to preserve the integrity of women’s swimming — an arena previously determined by sex and now ruled by gender identity.
As stated by the online letter, much mulling has occurred:
You will be aware that the WSCA Board have spent a significant period of time since the commencement of 2022 in drafting and re-drafting a Position Statement to aid FINA in constructing their own Transgender Policy.
WSCA whittled it to two possible paradigms replacing the old-fashioned binary divide.
- Female Division
- Open Division
- Female Division
- Male Division
- Open Division
Option 2 won out:
[It was the Board’s] clear preference… In receiving consultation from our membership at large, we received overwhelming support…and, with some edits made following this membership consultation, this will now be put to FINA for their consideration and support.
In its Position Statement on Transgender Swimming, WSCA lists five Key Pillars:
- WSCA is committed to the inclusion of all people in competitive swimming.
- Categorization through birth sex remains to be the most useful and functional division relative to sporting performance.
- Evidence indicates that it is fair for transgender people to be included in the sport of swimming either within a Male category and/or as athletes racing within a Male category but additionally entered within an ‘Open’ category.
- Competitive fairness cannot be reconciled with self-identification into the female category in a gender-affected sport such as swimming. The average differences in strength, stamina, and physique between the sexes is significant. Transgender females are, on average, likely to retain physical advantages listed above even if testosterone suppression is utilized
- Categorization by sex is lawful, and hence the requirement to request information relating to birth sex is appropriate. No individual is compelled to provide any information to a sports organization.
Number five hosts a big “however”:
However, failure to provide such information should mean that that person would not be able to compete in the category of their choice.
The sport of swimming should…provide options for those people who prefer not to advise of their sex or gender.
“For the sport of swimming,” the association says, “the inclusion of transgender people on the grounds of fairness cannot co-exist in the current competitive model. Swimming should choose to offer competition in which the female category is protected for reasons of competitive fairness.”
Might FINA, which touts itself as “a pillar of the Olympic Movement,” be interested?
Culture has come to a precarious place. Politics have infiltrated everything, from entertainment to education, from science to sports.
It seems to me that virtually no institutional decision is any longer made free of political consideration.
The World Swimming Coaches Association has taken a bold step. Will FINA?
Surely 6′ 4″ Lia Thomas hopes not.
Women’s swimming once centered around…women’s swimming. For now, amid all the controversy, it’s stuck treading water in a pool of transgenderism.
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