September 17, 2021

Tokyo Olympics: Alice Dearing says swimming is open to everyone following 10km marathon effort

August 04, 2021

Alice Dearing says she hopes she has shown that swimming is open to all after becoming Britain's first Black female swimmer to compete in the Olympics.

Dearing was unhappy with her result in the water on Wednesday, placing 19th in the women's 10km marathon swim. She told Sky Sports News before the Games that she was targeting a top-10 finish.

But the 24-year-old knows that her presence in Tokyo can have a wider impact, and said following her race: "I just want people to know that no matter your race or background, if you don't know how to swim, get in and learn to swim.

"Don't let anyone tell you it's not for you."

But despite her trailblazing efforts, Dearing could not hide her disappointment at her performance in the open water event and was struggling to hold back tears after the race.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: "I'm really disappointed with that. I can do so much better than that. I put a lot of work in the past four years to even get here.

"I can't redo what I've done in there but it's only three years to Paris. I've got a lot more to give, a lot more to learn.

"It's my first Olympics so I'm definitely not done. I'll just go home, take my time, get over it and come back stronger."

But despite finishing 19th, Dearing said she was "proud" to have even made it to the Olympics having nearly given up the sport four years ago, revealing that losing her funding and her place at the National Centre left her in a "dark place".

However, Dearing battled back to make the team for this summer's Games, and in doing so became only Britain's third Black swimmer at the Olympics, following Kevin Burns (Montreal 1976) and Paul Marshall (Moscow 1980).

Dearing also made headlines before Tokyo for her support of the Soul Cap, a swimming cap designed specifically for natural Black hair.

Swimming's governing body FINA rejected the use of the Soul Cap at this year's Games - saying they do not fit "the natural form of the head" - but have since said they will review their decision after further study.

"It's a shame about what happened but I think the right steps are being made by FINA and the Soul Cap," said Dearing. "I'm very optimistic that it will be a better news story the next time."

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