Female swimmers slam sports body as girls as young as 14 are forced to swim against MEN in elite events
- Girls as young as 14 have been forced to swim against 18 year old boys in events
- Victoria Swimming says they lack the numbers for the individual disciplines
- Lauren McAuley, 14, will silently protest with placards to change their minds
Swimmers have lashed out after girls as young as 14 were forced to compete against 18 year old boys in 800m and 1500m events.
During this month’s Victorian Age Championships, the individual events have lacked the numbers – which has given Victoria Swimming the green light to bracket boys and girls together.
Lauren McAuley, 16, is ranked the third fastest girl for her age in Victoria and will be demoted to 47th on a list of boys and girls and forced to swim against both because of the system.
Lauren said that she felt ‘sort of belittled because I’m not able to show people what I’m capable of,’ she said.
Long distance swimming is the pinnacle of the sport which tests patience, skill and endurance
‘What’s the point of racing if it’s not against people my own age.’
She said she would stage a silent protest with placards at the state championships in the hope swimming chiefs changed their minds.
Keiran McAuley, Lauren’s father, said it was ‘a farce’ his 16-year-old daughter had to swim against boys and girls aged 14-18 in the 1500m and held concerns that females would pull out of events.
He has filed a complaint with commissioner Kate Jenkins, claiming his daughter has been left ‘visibly upset’ and intimidated by the situation.
‘Girls want to swim against girls.’
All other events outside 800m and 1500m allow girls to race girls their own age for the chance to be crowned state champion.
Swimming Victoria chief executive Jason Helwig said girls and boys had been lumped together in some races because of ‘smaller numbers of participants’ last year.
‘Medals are awarded across both genders,’ he said.
“Whilst they swim together they are not competing against each other for the same medals.’’
But Swimming Victoria will only hand out medals to winners in the 14-18 bracket on 800m and 1500m events, instead of crowning a boys and girls winner in every age group.
A working group has been set up by Swimming Victoria to consider changes to the program next year.
Georgia Waters, who is the spokesperson for the Australian Human Rights Commission, said they were unable to comment as did not want to impact the outcome of the current complaint.