Brooke Forde: ‘I Will Not Have a Problem Racing Against Lia Thomas at NCAAs’

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Brooke Forde -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Brooke Forde: ‘I Will Not Have a Problem Racing Against Lia Thomas at NCAAs’

A handful of U.S. National Team swimmers and past Olympic gold medalists have given their opinion on whether transgender swimmer Lia Thomas deserves to be permitted to compete in women’s events on the NCAA level, but none of Thomas’ potential collegiate rivals have spoken out previously. However, Stanford fifth-year swimmer Brooke Forde chimed in this week as she passed along comments to her father, Sports Illustrated writer Pat Forde, to share on the Yahoo Sports College Football podcast.

Brooke Forde wrote that she has “great respect” for Thomas and admiration for Thomas’ courage in becoming one of the first trans female athletes to race at a high level in swimming. She added that “treating people with respect and dignity is more important than any trophy or record will ever be.”

Forde’s opinion carries weight since she was the NCAA Champion in the 500 freestyle in 2019 and placed third in the event at NCAAs last year, and is currently ranked third nationally behind Thomas and Arizona State’s Emma Nordin. That means Forde is likely to face off against Thomas with an NCAA title on the line in March, and she is still throwing her support behind Thomas.

“I have great respect for Lia,” Forde said in her prepared statement. “Social change is always a slow and difficult process and we rarely get it correct right away. Being among the first to lead such a social change requires an enormous amount of courage, and I admire Lia for her leadership that will undoubtedly benefit many trans athletes in the future. In 2020, I along with most swimmers, experienced what it was like to have my chance to achieve my swimming goals taken away after years of hard work. I would not wish this experience on anyone, especially Lia, who has followed the rules required of her. I believe that treating people with respect and dignity is more important than any trophy or record will ever be, which is why I will not have a problem racing against Lia at NCAAs this year.”

After he read his daughter’s statement, Pat Forde added: “People don’t necessarily have to agree. I’m not sure I agree completely because I’m not sure this is a level playing field. My daughter’s thing is, ‘I’m the one who has to get into the pool with her, and I’m fine with it,’ so I think some people could take a good lesson from that.”

Prior to that, Pat Forde explained to co-host Dan Wetzel about the controversy surrounding Thomas, who swam the nation’s fastest times in the 200 and 500-yard free in December. Forde told Thomas’ story, including how she was cleared to compete under a decade-old NCAA policy that required just one year of hormone therapy for a trans female athlete to be eligible in women’s events. He explained how an NCAA rule change last week, which placed the burden of determining transgender eligibility on USA Swimming, called into question whether Thomas would be allowed at the NCAA Championships.

“I think the expectation is that this would be very late to change the rules of the game and to put her out of that…There is major questions of inclusivity, fairness. Is this damaging to women’s sports? Do we ever get to a point where we have a third category at the college level, men’s swimming, women’s swimming and transgender swimming?” he said. “It is funny. Some of the folks who are really wound up about this and screaming about the fairness about women’s sports really don’t give a damn about women’s sports. They are using this as a political wedge issue, and they are using it as a sign the country has absolutely run amok and has lost its mind to political correctness and blah blah blah. There are a lot of political opinions about this, but some of them are cloaked, I think, in bogus terms.”

Pat Forde added: “This topic is only going to get worse, and I have a feeling we’re going to end up with protestors outside the pool at Georgia Tech at the NCAA swimming championships, one way or another. Probably both ways.”

Listen to the full Yahoo Sports College Football podcast here, and the conversation about Thomas begins around the 22-minute mark.

22 Comments
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SETH
3 months ago

Brava, Ms. Forde!

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sygrandedame@aol.com
3 months ago
Reply to  SETH

EXCELANYT ! XY SHALL NOT COMPETE AGAINST X PERIOD FULL STOP .

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a
3 months ago
Reply to  SETH

I can tell by your comment that you’re pretentious

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Seth
3 months ago
Reply to  a

You can tell I’m pretentious by my three word comment? Can you elaborate, please? I can tell by your comment that you are judgmental of people about whom you know nothing.

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Margie
3 months ago

Until Lia bumps her off the podium.

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Markus
3 months ago
Reply to  Margie

That will not make a difference to Pat. Sad to see such pessimism on your side.

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Swim
3 months ago

I hope she is just saying this to be on the good side of the media considering she may be on the podium with Thomas.

I do feel for Thomas’ dad. It would break my heart if my son followed in Thomas’ footsteps.

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Seth Hoff
3 months ago

Apparently people didn’t actually read Ms. Forde’s own words: “I believe that treating people with respect and dignity is more important than any trophy or record will ever be, which is why I will not have a problem racing against Lia at NCAAs this year.”

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Joy
3 months ago

I’m excited to see Ms. Forde give up her spot at the NCAA Championships so that the athletes who get bumped out of the meet by the inclusion of Lia Thomas, can take her spot.
That would be living your ideals, Ms. Forde. In it’s wisdom (and it’s wallet), the NCAA makes the swimming championships a numbers game. Approximately 38 swimmers per event are invited to the meet. With the inclusion of Lia Thomas in 3 events, 3 athletes will be bumped to 39th and not be invited. Dream snuffed. However, with her participation in dozens of high level meets during her career, Ms. Forde could surely surrender her spots in this extraordinarily high level meet for another less fortunate athlete to participate. If the trophy and record don’t matter, how about doing a time trial back at the Farm rather than traveling to the meet?
Thank you for your sacrifice.

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Dr. Matt
3 months ago
Reply to  Joy

well said.

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Pro Cis-Female
3 months ago

A real vote of confidence would be if Forde gave up her spot to swim at NCAA’s so another Cis-female could go in her place.

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SETH
3 months ago

I don’t think Ms. Forde will take suggestions from strangers about her decisions about competing, as she is an adult who is obviously quite able to make her own decisions.

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Marlene
3 months ago

She won last year. She had the experience once. Maybe she felt she had her chance- admirably. but should she feel the same had she not won last year?

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Johann
3 months ago

Brooke Forde is a Moron

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SETH
3 months ago
Reply to  Johann

I am surprised that Swimming World allows such disrespectful language to remain on their website.

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XYZ
3 months ago

After they normalize gender contamination, what’s next on the social change agenda? Time marches on and folks need to express their inner feelings. Will folks want to become/impersonate their pets? Obviously at some point, they will want to marry their pets, etc. Sex with pets? There must be hormones they can take for that. Oh, and of course the rest of the us – yeah the other 99% – are just so out of touch. We’re not one of the cool kids like Brooke.

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SETH
3 months ago
Reply to  XYZ

I don’t think people will start to impersonate their pets or want to marry them. Of course there are Furries, so if that is of interest to you, there’s nothing wrong with some safe and respectful personal exploration.

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Mike Arata
3 months ago

Male becomes female? Saying so doesn’t make it so.

The “Lia” (Will) Thomas spectacle has one benefit: it brings to national attention the insanity of permitting biological males to compete in biological female athletic events.

It’s done so more prominently than in some other such cases because Thomas’s presumably un-tapered 200 free time in December (1:41.93) was already faster than last year’s winning NCAA Division One women’s championship time; and Thomas’s 500 free December time (4:34:06) — like the 200 free, with no serious competition — would only have missed first place by 0.45 second.

Further, both of those December performances show potential capacity for setting new NCAA women’s records (over Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky, respectively), by someone who is not in fact a woman — i.e., by someone not sporting XX chromosomes.

Failure of Thomas to challenge those records would likely mean that Thomas was either ill or had bagged his races for PR reasons, as seems to have occurred in at least one dual meet this month.

Meanwhile, significant displacements of legitimate female competitors have already occurred — in Connecticut high school sports, for example. There, two biological began competing in girls’ track in 2017. Within that season and the two following, the biological males were awarded 15 state-champion titles, taken in 2016 by nine different girls.

It’s time for all the regulatory bodies in sport to reject the ideology and harmful politics of transgenderism, especially insofar as they interfere with girls’ and women’s interests, dedication, and rewards in sport.

FINA and the IOC seem finally to have caught up to doping cases in athletics. Now, as Swimming World Editor in Chief John Lohn noted in his January 18 commentary (linked above), Thomas’s core physiology gives him advantages over females which the latter will never have — and the effect is at least as pronounced as that which benefited drug-enhanced East German female athletes in the 70s.
In 1973, as a young coach seeking to learn from the masters, I visited the legendary George Haines and his world-renowned Santa Clara Swim Club program. As it turned out, the East Germans themselves had arrived for joint practices. The doping charges then were only rumors, but the East German girls had noticeable superiorities, in musculature alone.

Were I still coaching now, I’d refuse any formal competition of the grossly unfair sort which is introduced by post-pubertal XY males (allegedly testosterone-suppressed or not) “competing” with genuine XX females.

Girls and women struggled for a long time, even in the largely egalitarian sport of swimming, to be accorded the importance and appreciation which attended men’s swimming, at least since Johnny Weismuller. To continue allowing Thomas’s involvement in NCAA swimming (along with others like him), on up to and including the 2022 championship and the asterisks which would be needed, will do immense damage to the sport, and to the aspirations of the young women who participate in it. Stop the insanity!

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Mike Arata
3 months ago

Sorry, noticing a couple word omissions in my submission: [6th paragraph] in Connecticut, “… two biological MALES began competing in girls’ track in 2017.”

[Final paragraph] “…Thomas’s involvement in NCAA WOMEN’S swimming….”

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Jack
3 months ago

“I believe that treating people with respect and dignity is more important than any trophy or record will ever be”

Sadly, Brooke shows that some women are willing to submit to being beaten by a man.

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Mom
3 months ago
Reply to  Jack

What about treating women with respect and dignity?

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Jack
3 months ago
Reply to  Mom

There is nothing wrong with treating people with respect and dignity, when reasonable.

It’s not reasonable when treating people with respect and dignity requires that women lose.