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Southern Illinois University welcomes first transgender women in D1 swimming

Natalie Fahey used to be caught between continuing swimming and living her true self. “I thought I could put [my transition] off until I was done with swimming in college,” Fahey told Justin Broom of River Region Evening Edition in an exclusive video interview. “But, it got to a point earlier this year, this season, that I really realized [transitioning] wasn’t something that I could keep putting off, and I couldn’t keep battling with not pursuing who I was while still swimming.”

This season, Fahey will begin her transition from male to female while continuing to compete in men’s events. As a distance freestyler, Fahey made the B finals last season at the 2018 MAC Championships. “A big part of [deciding to transition] was self-actualization. There is a trans man on the Harvard team, Schuyler Bailar, and he was a big inspiration to me.”

Schuyler Bailer was the first openly trans swimmer at the NCAA DI level. When Bailer began his transition after being accepted onto the Harvard women’s swim team, one of the primary concerns on his mind was what his future in swimming would be. The Harvard men’s coach’s solution was straightforward. “Why doesn’t he come swim for me?” was his response, as revealed in a story by WGBH news.

In the interview, Fahey acknowledges that her family, community of friends, and the swim team have been so supportive of her journey. With the support of her swim team, she is gearing up for the new season with new goals and a new focus.

See the full interview with Salukis Athletics via SwimSwam HERE.

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