Riley Gaines, a former Kentucky swim star, criticizes Leah Thomas’ NCAA Woman of the Year nomination.

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Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines criticized the decision of the University of Pennsylvania to nominate her candidacy Leah Thomas for NCAA Woman of the Year Award on Friday.

Thomas, a transgender, became the first transgender woman to win titles at Ivy League and NCAA championships.

But her prowess in the pool sparked a heated debate about whether transgender women should be allowed to compete in sports with biological women.

Gaines tweeted her opinion, stating that the NCAA is making the top honor in collegiate athletics “worthless”.

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Leah Thomas after winning the 500-yard freestyle during the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta.

Leah Thomas after winning the 500-yard freestyle during the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta.
(Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“Being a real girl in this photo, as well as being a University of Kentucky NCAA WOTY nominee, is another slap in the face for women. First a women’s national title and now a nomination for the highest award in collegiate athletics,” she tweeted in response to Outkick founder Clay Travis. “@NCAA has rendered this award worthless.

“This award combines athletic performance with academic achievement, service and character. What character did Thomas demonstrate besides pure selfishness and right? The disrespect and disdain for other athletes in Thomas’s interview is eye-opening.”

Gaines was also nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. University of Kentucky after she ended her career in the pool. She won three individual SEC conference titles, broke two SEC records, received 12 All-American honors, and graduated with honors. She finished behind Thomas in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championship earlier this year.

LIA THOMAS NOMINATED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA FOR NCAA WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

“This award is given not only for sports performance, but also for academics, service and character, so to be considered someone who embodies all of these things is extremely humiliating,” Gaines said in a news release on the school’s athletics website. so I am very grateful and always proud to be a Wildcat. I love the UK and the big blue nation so much.”

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines reacts after placing fifth in the 200 freestyle final at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships on March 18, 2022 at McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines reacts after placing fifth in the 200 freestyle final at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships on March 18, 2022 at McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
(Rich von Bieberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Each NCAA member school nominates a Woman of the Year. Each conference then considers nominations from its member schools and submits its conference nominee to the NCAA. Nominees who compete in sports not sponsored by their school’s main conference and independents will be sent to a separate pool of nominees and reviewed by a committee.

The organization then determines the top 30 and selects three finalists from each pool. Of the nine finalists NCAA will choose the winner.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Leah Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after placing 5th in the 200 freestyle final at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18, 2022 at McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Leah Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after placing 5th in the 200 freestyle final at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18, 2022 at McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
(Rich von Bieberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Thomas’ appointment comes after FINA, the governing body of international swimmingvoted to approve new rules for transgender swimmers.

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines swims in the 200 butterfly preliminaries for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships March 19, 2022 at Macauley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines swims in the 200 butterfly preliminaries for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships March 19, 2022 at Macauley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
(Rich von Bieberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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The newly approvedgender inclusive policy“allows only swimmers who have passed at the age of 12 to participate in women’s competitions.