The truth hurts, NCAA: “Thank you for proving me right when I told my little girl the world would under-value her no matter how hard she worked.”
Erica Laning is a fifth-year swimmer at Arizona State University. She is the PAC-12 champion in the 500 free. She placed 13th at the NCAA Championships in Georgia where Lia Thomas won the 500 free.
Mrs. Kimberly Laning, Erica’s mother, is furious. She wrote a letter to the NCAA, which The Liberty Jacket published:
She was having a hard time.
We all were.
After twenty years of being a swim family, our youngest was staring at her last year of eligibility.
Sure the pandemic and all it brought with it has been challenging, but a child who cries when there’s no 1650 for her to compete in when she’s 8 years old, doesn’t back down from a challenge.
What would come next?
What would it be like to be a retired athlete at 22?
How would we spend our Spring breaks, Christmas breaks, Summers, without the rigors of the competitive swim cycle?
So thank you ….
Thank you for proving me right when I told my little girl the world would under-value her no matter how hard she worked.
Thank you for putting the revenue generated by a media “event” above the mental toll this would have on these young women.
Thank you for reducing the pinnacle of Women’s swimming competition to a farce.
Thank you for reminding us that in the end, it is only a sport.
We will move on.
No looking back.
The last session cannot come soon enough for this soon to be ex-swim mom.
– Kimberly Laning
Laning told The Liberty Jacket that Erica began swimming competitively at the age of four and took the sport seriously at the age of seven.
That is when Laning began to see unfairness injected into the sport. It has followed Erica throughout her time. But Laning always told Erica whenever she saw these instances that it is unfair and no one wins:
She explained that when her daughter was doing just recreational summer league swimming in their hometown, the kids who also swam competitively year-round were not allowed to swim in the ‘rec’ league championships in the summer. When her daughter began swimming in a bigger league at the age of 7, she learned that:
“They have a whole group for swimmers who train all year, but if they don’t swim in a meet, then technically, by the rules, they are allowed to swim in the end of summer championship that is supposed to be for the [rec] summer league swimmers. … If you train every day and then swim against children who only train 90 days a year, that doesn’t seem fair to me.”
Mrs. Laning used this as a lesson for her seven-year-old daughter.
“That is an unfair advantage – and it is not winning; it’s cheating.”
She then said that the Lia Thomas situation is an exact parallel in her eyes.
“It is about fair sportsmanship; you can’t go into something with an unfair advantage and feel like that’s a win. Ethically, that’s cheating. It’s pure and simple. Where’s your moral compass?”
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