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A Former U.S. Swimming Official's Testimony re. Arizona Sports Policy

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Cynthia Millen, and until December, 2021, I had been a swimming official for over 30 years. I have officiated at swim meets for USA Swim Clubs, high school, NCAA, US National Championships, and International Paralympics all over the world. My primary position was as a starter—the person who says “Take Your Marks”—and it has been an honor to serve thousands of swimmers at hundreds of meets, including some in Arizona. I have been blessed to have received awards for my work and service to the swimming world. Like all swim officials, I served as a volunteer.

I love the sport of swimming because of its beauty, and, most of all, because of its fairness. What makes sports valued and worth preserving are its rules which allow everyone to compete on an equal playing field.

Everyone can swim and compete, from the littlest 8-and-under “minnow” to the paraplegic who can only propel herself by the most delicate strokes of her hands, because every swimmer is categorized by his or her ability. Hence we have age groups—8-and-under, 9-10, etc.,—for able-body swimmers, and we have classifications in Paralympics based upon the type of disability which the swimmer has.

Most importantly, swimmers have always been divided by sex, because from the very beginning, the male anatomy allows males to swim faster than females. By the time puberty hits, males swim between 8-12% faster than females in every stroke. Males have larger bone structure and denser bones. They have greater lung capacity and larger hearts. Their circulatory system is greater, allowing for more oxygen to flow to their lungs, and they possess more and quicker fast-twitch muscles for faster starts and turns. They have much less subcutaneous fat which allows them to streamline under the water. Muscle sinks while fat floats.

Meanwhile, females at puberty must teach themselves how to swim all over again. With the addition of breasts and hips, and more subcutaneous fat, their centers of gravity change, which affects their strokes. It is common to see girls who are faster when they are 11-12 than when they are 13-14 because they have hit that puberty wall. Those girls who gut through and retrain themselves still must deal with monthly blood loss, hormonal effects of menstruation, and frequent bouts of anemia. Males, of course, never have these issues.

In all sports, bodies compete against bodies. No matter what surgical or hormonal changes are attempted, a male body can never be a female body, and will always have an enormous and immutable physical advantage. Testosterone suppression does very little to change the musculature of a male, and does absolutely nothing to change the skeletal, lung, heart, fast twitch muscle, and streamlined design of the male body. These aspects are immutable as well.

In addition, females deserve a space where they can compete against one another. They deserve to be able to train together, celebrate together, commiserate through their periods together, confide in one another, encourage each other, and just be girls together. Title 9 has permitted generations of girls to strive to be the best they can be on the field, and to cheer other women on, not on the sidelines, but as integral members of the team. More importantly, female athletes have inspired millions of young girls to see themselves as future Olympians or as the winner of the next local swim meet. Athletics for women encourage healthy habits and self-image, where being a strong and muscular female is something in which she can take pride. Too often in our society, girls are measured by the false standards of the fashion industry or the latest photo-shopped celebrity. Athletics celebrates women and girls for who they are and what they can strive to be.

I quit officiating after 30 years because male bodies have been permitted to permeate what has always been a sacred place for females. It is unfair and it is pernicious because it will eventually wipe out women’s sports. Worst of all, it tells our girls that they do not matter and don’t deserve first place, or even to have the chance to try for it.

Please protect the dignity of all sports in Arizona by passing this legislation.

Thank you very much.

Cynthia Millen

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1 Comment

Cynthia, thank you so much for speaking up for women and girls. It is like an ongoing nightmare watching boys and men encroach on women's spaces to the utter distress of the females. It's time for people to stop being intimidated by this insanity.

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