Solely two Black swimmers have represented Britain on the Video games – Kevin Burns swam on the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and Paul Marshall gained bronze in Moscow 4 years later.
“It is such a terrific alternative to showcase the experience that’s in swimming throughout the Black neighborhood.”
As the one Black individual 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 might help in any method show what Black swimmers can do, I wish to do this,” she provides.
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 may safe her a Tokyo 2020 spot.
Whereas she races in open water, Dearing trains 9 occasions per week within the pool underneath the watchful eye of coach Andi Manley at Loughborough College within the East Midlands — her base since 2015.
Throughout her swimming session, Dearing glides by the water effortlessly, finishing each drill with navy precision. There is no such thing as a trace of the extra stress typically related to being the “first.”
The plaques recognizing world file holders and banners bearing the names of Olympians who’ve educated 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 dad and mom who wish to see me succeed and can do something of their energy to assist me succeed and be the very best athlete I may be has been invaluable, an enormous credit score to my profession,” she says.
Regardless of rising up in a various neighborhood in Birmingham, England’s second-largest metropolis, Dearing and her mom had been typically the one two Black individuals at swimming meets — a truth she says she was oblivious to for essentially the most half.
She factors out that whereas her expertise inside swimming has been largely constructive, 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 attention-grabbing that that occurred. However basically, I’ve had a very good expertise in swimming,” she says.
Extra progress must be executed
Based on Swim England, just one p.c of registered aggressive swimmers determine as Black or combined race.
“Our bones are too dense, we sink once 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 individuals over a long time,” Dearing continues.
“And it is acquired to the purpose now the place, in fact, 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 executed 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 stated variety and entry to aquatics sports activities was “positively on our agenda.”
“Every of our disciplines already has motion plans to reinforce our illustration, while extra just lately equality, variety and inclusion has been added as a focal agenda merchandise the place it’ll stay at forthcoming board conferences,” it learn.
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 forestall drowning in Black and minority ethnic communities.
Over the subsequent 4 years, BSA plans to scale back the proportion of Black adults and Black youngsters who don’t swim in England by 5 p.c and in addition enhance the variety of Black youngsters in school who can swim 25 meters by 5 p.c.
“It is a tough problem, particularly with the setbacks of Covid. However I actually suppose with the companions we’re working with, with having Swim England on our facet, I am actually trying to join with aquatic our bodies not simply in swimming, however throughout an entire vary of sports activities to showcase that swimming is not only swimming, it is aquatics basically,” 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
Being the poster lady for Black swimming whereas additionally learning in the direction of a grasp’s diploma in social media and political communications is likely to be overwhelming for some, however Dearing takes all of it in her stride.
“The chance that I’ve with doubtlessly 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 residence these modifications, this variety and cements that swimming is a sport for everyone,” she provides.
“It is nearly utilizing my voice for constructive change and I really feel like that is the very best yr, effectively, 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 individuals attempting out swimming.
“It completely modified my life in essentially the most wonderful method so I would love for different individuals to have these alternatives and simply give it a strive,” she says.
Whereas she acknowledges the significance of her advocacy work, Dearing needs her legacy to be centered on her achievements as a swimmer as a substitute 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 on your shade or something like that.
“So, in the long term, I positively simply wish to be remembered as a swimmer, not because the Black swimmer for Britain.”