The swimmer poised to make British Olympic historical past

Solely two Black swimmers have represented Britain on the Video games – Kevin Burns swam on the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and Paul Marshall received bronze in Moscow 4 years later.

“It is such an ideal alternative to showcase the experience that’s in swimming throughout the Black group.”

As the one Black particular person on the British Swimming workforce, Dearing has sought inspiration from American Olympic gold medalists Cullen Jones and Simone Manuel and Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson.

“If I may also help in any approach show what Black swimmers can do, I need to try this,” she provides.

Dearing pictured training in Loughborough.

Being the ‘first’

First on Dearing’s radar is the rescheduled qualifier for the Olympic marathon in Could in Japan, the place she plans to be the very best British finisher within the girls’s race — an achievement that might safe her a Tokyo 2020 spot.

Whereas she races in open water, Dearing trains 9 occasions per week within the pool below the watchful eye of coach Andi Manley at Loughborough College within the East Midlands — her base since 2015.

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As a acknowledged elite coaching centre, the swimming pool and its fitness center was exempt from England’s second lockdown restrictions, enabling high-performance athletes to proceed with their coaching schedules.

Throughout her swimming session, Dearing glides via the water effortlessly, finishing each drill with army precision. There isn’t a trace of the extra stress typically related to being the “first.”

The plaques recognizing world document holders and banners bearing the names of Olympians who’ve skilled in what is commonly described because the “Pool of Desires,” don’t appear to section her both as she jokes with Manley and her teammates throughout breaks.

The daughter of a Ghanaian mom and British father, Dearing fell in love with swimming on the age of 5 and credit her mom, a eager swimmer, for nurturing her ardour and her non-swimmer father for his fixed help.

“Having two very supportive mother and father who need to see me succeed and can do something of their energy to assist me succeed and be the most effective athlete I could be has been invaluable, an enormous credit score to my profession,” she says.

Regardless of rising up in a various group in Birmingham, England’s second-largest metropolis, Dearing and her mom have been typically the one two Black folks at swimming meets — a reality she says she was oblivious to for probably the most half.

She factors out that whereas her expertise inside swimming has been largely optimistic, she has skilled racism within the sport.

“I heard a coach as soon as referred to me as an n phrase. A coach who I do not know, I did not know. I had nothing to do with them in any respect. So, it was fairly fascinating that that occurred. However generally, I’ve had a extremely good expertise in swimming,” she says.

Extra progress must be finished

Dearing is the 2016 World Junior Open Water champion.

In line with Swim England, just one p.c of registered aggressive swimmers determine as Black or blended race.

“Our bones are too dense, we sink after we get within the water, swimming is simply not meant for us, we’re not meant to swim. That is what systemic racism has advised Black folks over many years,” Dearing continues.

“And it is acquired to the purpose now the place, after all, these myths and lies are believed as a result of it has been repeated for thus lengthy.”

Dearing feels that whereas some progress has been made in diversifying swimming, extra must be finished to advertise swimming as a life-saving ability and to show ethnic minorities to the number of profession alternatives in aquatics.

In an announcement to CNN, British Swimming mentioned variety and entry to aquatics sports activities was “positively on our agenda.”

“Every of our disciplines already has motion plans to boost our illustration, while extra not too long ago equality, variety and inclusion has been added as a focal agenda merchandise the place it can stay at forthcoming board conferences,” it learn.

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Earlier this yr, Dearing, a 2016 World Junior Open Water champion, co-founded the Black Swimming Affiliation (BSA), a charity which inspires swimming participation and works to stop drowning in Black and minority ethnic communities.

Over the subsequent 4 years, BSA plans to scale back the proportion of Black adults and Black kids who don’t swim in England by 5 p.c and likewise improve the variety of Black kids in school who can swim 25 meters by 5 p.c.

“It is a troublesome problem, particularly with the setbacks of Covid. However I actually suppose with the companions we’re working with, with having Swim England on our aspect, I am actually trying to join with aquatic our bodies not simply in swimming, however throughout a complete vary of sports activities to showcase that swimming isn’t just swimming, it is aquatics generally,” she says.

“And studying to swim can open up a door, be it for being a lifeguard or browsing, and even simply having a splash in a pool or within the sea on vacation.”

Dearing has additionally partnered with the model Soul Cap, which makes swimming caps for thick, curly and voluminous hairstyles, just like the afro.

Taking all of it in her stride

Dearing hopes to see more people trying out swimming.

Being the poster woman for Black swimming whereas additionally finding out in the direction of a grasp’s diploma in social media and political communications could be overwhelming for some, however Dearing takes all of it in her stride.

“The chance that I’ve with probably qualifying to the Olympics as being the primary Black girl to swim for Britain on the Olympic Video games, this can be a probability to essentially drive house these modifications, this variety and cements that swimming is a sport for everyone,” she provides.

“It is nearly utilizing my voice for optimistic change and I really feel like that is the most effective yr, properly, it was meant to be yr however now it is ended up being two years to do it.”

As soon as the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and native swimming swimming pools reopen for most of the people, Dearing hopes to see extra folks attempting out swimming.

“It completely modified my life in probably the most wonderful approach so I might love for different folks to have these alternatives and simply give it a attempt,” she says.

Whereas she acknowledges the significance of her advocacy work, Dearing desires her legacy to be centered on her achievements as a swimmer as an alternative of her pores and skin shade.

“I want that race did not matter within the sport; it does matter,” she provides.

“However I actually hope we arrive at a spot the place it is rather like you simply get in and swim and you do not have to be seen to your shade or something like that.

“So, in the long term, I positively simply need to be remembered as a swimmer, not because the Black swimmer for Britain.”

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