DeSantis declares Florida native best swimmer after she finished second to Lia Thomas in NCAA event

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 5:02 PM CDT
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WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (WWSB/Gray News) - Gov. Ron DeSantis is criticizing the NCAA after transgender swimmer Lia Thomas won the Division I national championship in the 500-yard women’s freestyle.

WWSB reports DeSantis issued a proclamation Tuesday declaring Sarasota native Emma Weyant, who placed second, as the winner.

Weyant competes for the University of Virginia, and she previously won an Olympic silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 games in the 400-meter individual medley.

Emma Weyant reacts after winning the women's 400-meter individual medley final during wave 2 of...
Emma Weyant reacts after winning the women's 400-meter individual medley final during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Omaha, Neb.(Charlie Neibergall | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Thomas, who attends the University of Pennsylvania, made history as the first transgender woman to win an NCAA Division I championship, beating Weyant by 1.75 seconds.

“By allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud,” wrote DeSantis. “In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the best women’s swimmer in the 500y freestyle.”

Weyant has not commented publicly on DeSantis’ proclamation.

University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas swims in a preliminary heat for the...
University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas swims in a preliminary heat for the 500 meter freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Thomas’ victory has increased the debate about whether transgender women should compete in female athletics. She has followed NCAA and Ivy League rules since she began her transition in 2019.

Copyright 2022 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.