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ATLANTA – The parents of a female swimmer competing against Lia Thomas in the NCAA championship criticized the transgender athlete's win as unfair.
"It’s just not right," the father of an Auburn University swimmer told Fox News. "It’s taking opportunity away from females that have worked very, very hard for a long, long time, even before college, to get in this position."
The swimmer's mother said she and her husband "do not support a biological male swimming in the women’s championship meet"
"It is an unfair advantage," she added.
Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania swimmer who competed on the school's men's team before this season, won the 500-yard freestyle race at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships Thursday, becoming the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I championship in any sport.
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 17: University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas swims in the 500 Freestyle finals during the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 17th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Debate over whether transgender women should be allowed to compete against biological females intensified throughout the season.
"They asked how he felt about winning, when really, how did the rest of the women feel about having the stress of dealing with this, knowing they have to swim against him?" the Auburn father said, referring to Thomas.
"I think everybody's gotta be civil about it," he continued. "I call him Will Thomas. He's a human, we should respect that and what he wants to do with his life, but this isn't the place to do it."
The couple’s daughter is set to swim against Thomas in the 100- and 200-yard heats this weekend.
(Fox News Digital )
A former NCAA Division I track and field athlete told Fox News she sympathized with the swimmers.
"I competed against the first male-to-female transgender athlete in track and field in Division I," Linnea Saltz, a former Southern Utah University runner, said.
"Seeing how that affected not only my teammates, but other individuals across the NCAA, other individuals within the conference that we were competing in … it was something that made me really want to come and speak out," she continued.
Parents of female NCAA Division I swimmer from the University of Auburn (Fox News Digital)
The concerned parents said they were not alone in their feelings.
"I have not met one parent that feels differently than we feel," the Auburn swimmer's mother told Fox News. "I have not met one person that supports it."
Several other parents at the event told Fox News that swimmers were advised against commenting publicly about Thomas.
Saltz said many of the swimmers have come out to thank her and the other protestors for advocating on their behalf. She told Fox News the athletes said they were "too fearful" to speak openly out of fear of backlash from their universities.