As It Happens

Transgender college athlete joins Harvard men's swim team

Coach: "As long as Schuyler is happy and contributing to the program, the team is happy to have another member."
Schuyler Bailar is a transgender athlete at Harvard University. (Canadian Press )

Nineteen-year-old Schuyler Bailar was tapped as a potential star on Harvard's women's swim team. But soon after being accepted, Bailar asked to join the men's club instead. He will soon be the first openly transgender athlete to swim for the school.

Harvard men's swim coach Kevin Tyrrell says he took the request to a locker room meeting of his team. He tells As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner that the team said they had no issues with Bailar -- as long as he could swim. 

"The guys had two questions: First, can Schuyler keep up in swim practice? And then the second thing, they just wanted to emphasize that they'd really like Schuyler to be part of the team because he's enthusiastic and ready to contribute to a positive attitude."

In this June 22, 2015 photo, Schuyler Bailar stands poolside in Washington. (The Associated Press)

Joining the men's team will be a challenge for Bailar. Although recruited as a star swimmer, his times rank him much lower on the men's team. 

"Skylar was initially hesitant, but then when he met the men's team and felt the support -- he felt wanted and appreciated. That's pretty much what anybody wants in life," says coach Tyrrell.  

"I came out of it very proud and very honoured to be associated with young men that are looking forward to taking care of another human being and having a good season," he says.

To hear more about Bailar's story, take a listen to our interview.

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