Alice Dearing, the UK’s first Black Olympic swimmer, desires organizers for the following Video games to approve swim caps that higher accommodate Black hair.
Dearing is considered one of 4 Black individuals who arrange the Black Swim Affiliation within the UK, which goals to make swimming extra accessible for ethnic minorities, and informed the BBC in 2019 that she understands why Black swimmers would give up over their hair.
One of many limitations many Black ladies face is a method to swim whereas sustaining the well being of their pure hair. Many swim caps are too small for protecting types reminiscent of braids and locs.
“It sounds ludicrous, however it may be actually damaging to your self-image and confidence as chlorine wrecks hair,” Dearing informed the BBC, “however it’s even more durable for ladies with thicker hair, which the vast majority of Black ladies have.”
The Worldwide Swimming Federation (FINA) rejected an software by Soul Cap, which makes swim caps designed for Black hair, for approval for Olympic athletes to put on their caps in competitions. FINA stated the caps are unsuitable as a result of they do not observe “the pure type of the pinnacle.”
Following widespread protection and rallying from the general public on-line, FINA reached out to Soul Cap to apologize and supply them assist with their software to turn into accredited for worldwide competitors, together with the following Olympic Video games.
Dearing informed BuzzFeed Information that she is hopeful that the Black swim caps will ultimately be accredited.
“I am actually excited,” she stated. “I believe this can in all probability undergo and go ahead and be usable at worldwide competitions. I actually hope so.
“I do know lots of people need to be on the suitable aspect of historical past with this. So I am very optimistic that there is going to be a constructive consequence from it.”
Dearing stated that quite a lot of organizations must be educated and he or she is glad that they’re listening.
“It isn’t simply being thrown to the aspect like as probably it has been carried out prior to now,” she stated. “I am not insinuating that any group would do that on objective, however a long time in the past these items would not have been so mainstream, it would not have been so seen and acknowledged.”
Dearing stated she discovered to swim at round 5 years previous, entering into aggressive swimming on the age of eight after her mother noticed an commercial for an area swimming membership.
Dearing and her brother took swimming classes collectively and he or she stated watching competitions was a household exercise.
“We’d document them, rewatch them, like, it was like a correct household factor with me, my mum and considered one of my brothers,” she stated.
Quick-forward just a few years and Dearing herself has swum in these competitions and certified for the Tokyo Olympics. Though she got here in 19th place, her participation remains to be historic as the primary Black swimmer for the Staff Nice Britain.
Dearing additionally cofounded the Black Swimming Affiliation, which goals to encourage and diversify the individuals who swim within the UK. Dearing stated she desires to provide again to the game because it has given her a lot good in her life.
“I need different individuals to know these alternatives can be found to them, and never form of be pigeonholed into one thing due to their race or as a result of society thinks that that is what they need to do,” Dearing stated.
Dearing has additionally turn into a task mannequin to many. She stated it’s not one thing she thought she might be and stated it’s surreal. “It is simply form of like, I am simply the woman from Birmingham, only a woman from the Midlands in England,” she stated. “So it is one thing that is form of loopy. You by no means actually assume you are in that place to assist affect or assist encourage or change somebody’s life in such a constructive approach.”
Though Dearing is without doubt one of the few Black swimmers recognized internationally, she stated that Within the swimming neighborhood she was not at all times the one non-white swimmer.
As she received older she began to listen to whispers of individuals saying that Black individuals don’t swim and other people gave the impression to be shocked that she swam.
“We at all times laughed it off as a result of my mum, my mum’s from Ghana initially, she grew up swimming and it was a part of her way of life,” Dearing stated. “This is not only a joke like that is really affecting individuals’s lives and affecting the alternatives that they make every day. That is why I am so obsessed with that.”
Dearing stated that whereas she isn’t very blissful along with her Olympic efficiency, she has been getting messages of assist.
“Actually all people else is rather like, nicely carried out for getting there within the first place, nicely carried out for standing up, and having these conversations being a part of one thing that is greater than your self and advocating for change,” she stated.
Dearing is without doubt one of the athletes taking part in Procter & Gamble’s Athletes for Good Fund, which supplies 52 athletes $10,000 for initiatives for his or her native communities.
“It has been so overwhelming, like so many strangers messaged me, too many who I can not even reply to,” she stated. “However you recognize, I can actually really feel that I am supported and uplifted by all these individuals. And it is a feeling that I am going to always remember, truthfully, it is simply so highly effective. I am so honored that individuals have actually taken the trip to assist me.”
Dearing stated she didn’t get an opportunity to see any of the reside competitions when the Olympics had been within the UK, however she is happy for the Paris Video games as it’s so near house.
“Clearly, I am simply form of irritated and I by no means appreciated that London 2012 while it was round, however having form of, like, a form of a second likelihood with Paris … I am actually excited for, hopefully, that chance to compete as an athlete there as nicely.”