This woman's daughter competed against Lia Thomas at nationals. Now, she is speaking out.

The Liberty Jacket spoke with Kimberly Laning, whose daughter, Erica, competed against Thomas at the championships in the 500-yard freestyle.

'They have 'unleveled' the playing field, it is not good sportsmanship,' Laning said.

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Micah Paul Veillon and Nathaniel Greve for The Liberty Jacket, an independent student publication at Georgia Tech. 

Campus Reform edited the text to conform with this publication’s style. The original article can be read here

Photo Credit: Nathaniel Greve

At last week’s NCAA women’s swimming national championships at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Lia Thomas created national controversy for being a man competing against female athletes. Thomas won the title for the 500-yard freestyle swim. 

The Liberty Jacket spoke with Kimberly Laning, whose daughter, Erica, competed against Thomas at the championships in the 500-yard freestyle. A fifth-year swimmer for Arizona State University, Erica finished thirteenth in that competition at Georgia Tech. 

Kimberly Laning had sent a letter to the NCAA, criticizing the organization for how its transgender policy hurts female athletes. 

”Thank you for proving me right when I told my little girl the world would under-value her no matter how hard she worked,” Laning wrote. 

Laning wrote in full: 

Laning told The Liberty Jacket that her daughter started swimming at the same time she learned to walk. At four years of age, her daughter began to swim competitively, and her swim career became serious at around the age of seven. 

Laning said that Erica has a brother who is five years older than her and also was a competitive swimmer. He was one of the top high school swimmers in the nation but decided not to become a college swimmer because of the extreme sacrifices required to compete on that level. For swim families, this life requires total commitment. 

“It quite literally becomes your life,” Laning said. “And it has been our life for over twenty years.”

“The women who were born women and are competing at NCAA championships have trained their entire lives to be there,” she continued. “My daughter knows girls who have trained their entire lives and can’t get there. They don’t make the time standards. This is the pinnacle of women’s swimming.”

[RELATED: This is what Matt Walsh said about Lia Thomas right before the swimmer won a national title]

Laning went on to say that for someone to come out of the ranks of male swimming, who did not do all that great, and in a year-and-a-half become the top female swimmer, is an unfair advantage.

“I’m no doctor, I’m no biologist,” Laning prefaced. “They have ‘unleveled’ the playing field, it is not good sportsmanship.”

Laning stated that while Thomas “is allowed to make those choices” regarding his gender transition, she has spoken to other parents that feel the same way about the University of Pennsylvania swimmer competing against women. 

“All the parents of all the girls who are here that I have spoken with feel that it is unfair...I haven’t spoken with anyone who is in agreement with it,” she said.

Laning then recalled her emotions as she watched her daughter compete against Thomas in some of the championship heats:

She noted that while the crowd was very respectful and the audience was quiet when Lia Thomas’s name was called. 

Laning concedes that she believes that the NCAA had its hands tied because the rules in place were not ready for the extent they would be pushed to in these times. 

But she is optimistic that the NCAA will make changes in the future.

[RELATED: WATCH: Georgia Tech athletes sound off on Lia Thomas controversy]

”I’m hopeful for the future because that is what I’m most concerned about; the future of the girls who are watching this and getting up at 4:30 am every day to go train because this is their dream,” Laning said. 

Ultimately, Laning hopes that this controversy will not discourage all the little girls who dream of competing at this level. 

”It just diminishes all the hard work [my daughter] has done, and it makes me worry for her and other girls who want to do anything in our society. If it’s just so easy for their hard work to be thrown away and disregarded, then why bother,” she said.