On March 17, swimmer Lia Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle, making her the first transgender woman to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming championship. Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania senior who entered the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships as the top seed, had a season-best time of 4 minutes, 33.24 seconds.
Thomas’ win sparked controversy online and among fellow swimmers. On March 20, Virginia Tech swimmer Reka Gyorgy, who finished 17th in the preliminary round of the 500-yard freestyle competition, penned an open letter to the NCAA, critiquing the NCAA’s transgender student-athlete participation policy that allows transgender swimmers like Thomas to compete against swimmers who are “biologically women.”
Not long after Gyorgy posted the letter on her private Instagram account and her public Facebook page, a Twitter account claiming to be Gyorgy sent out a tweet suggesting that Thomas had “stolen” her spot. The tweet garnered over 100,000 likes and over 28,000 retweets.
Did Reka Gyorgy tweet that her NCAA finals spot was “stolen” by Lia Thomas?
- Reka Gyorgy, Virginia Tech swimmer
- Twitter spokesperson
- Tweets from Jenna Thompson, Virginia Tech swimmer
No, Reka Gyorgy did not tweet that her NCAA finals spot was “stolen” by Lia Thomas.
WHAT WE FOUND
VERIFY reached out to Reka Gyorgy via LinkedIn on March 23. She confirmed in a private message that the Twitter account claiming to be hers was fake, explaining that she does not have a Twitter account.
“I can confirm that the Twitter account was fake, I do not have Twitter myself,” Gyorgy wrote.
A Twitter spokesperson told VERIFY the account claiming to be Gyorgy “has been permanently suspended for violating our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts.”
Prior to the account’s suspension, Virginia Tech swimmer and Gyorgy’s teammate Jenna Thompson posted a tweet calling out Twitter user @amanda191923 for impersonating Gyorgy.
Thompson tweeted again after the suspension saying the account was fake because Gyorgy “does not use Twitter.”
“The account was suspended because someone was impersonating my teammate, Reka, who does not use Twitter. That account was fake,” Thompson wrote.
While Gyorgy confirmed that the tweet about Thomas and the Twitter account that posted the tweet were both fake, the swimmer did express frustration about Thomas’ win in her open letter to the NCAA. In the letter, Gyorgy wrote that while she respects and fully stands with Thomas, she wanted to “address something that is a problem in our sport right now and hurting athletes, especially female swimmers.”
“I am convinced that she is no different than me or any other D1 swimmer who has woken up at 5 am her entire life for morning practice. She has sacrificed family vacations and holidays for a competition. She has pushed herself to the limit to be the best athlete she could be. She is doing what she is passionate about and deserves that right,” Gyorgy wrote.
“On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women,” Gyorgy continued.
Thomas has followed NCAA rules since she began her transition in 2019 by starting hormone replacement therapy. She also swam for Penn while transitioning.
“I try to ignore it as much as I can,” Thomas said on March 17 of the criticism. “I try to focus on my swimming … and just try to block out everything else.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.