History-maker Alice Dearing retires from swimming hoping she has proved sport is for everybody

Alice Dearing, the first Black woman to swim for Great Britain in the Olympics, hopes she has left a legacy after announcing her retirement a day before her 27th birthday.

Dearing competed in the 10km marathon swim at the Tokyo 2020 Games, finishing in 19th place, having previously believed she was not good enough to reach the top level.

She told Sky Sports News: “It was incredible to be able to compete for Team GB in the Olympics. It is something I daydreamed about as a child but never really believed I would do, to be quite honest.

“I didn’t think I had it in me, I didn’t think I had the talent. To prove myself wrong was special but also to help make history for Black people in Britain… and hopefully show swimming is for everybody.

“If you have the capabilities, the resources and the money, get lessons if you can. It really can be life-changing and it is a basic life skill.”

In 2022, Dearing presented Sky Sports documentary Aquaphobia, a show which examined the barriers to swimming Black and Asian communities in the UK face, while she was also part of a group that founded the Black Swim Association (BSA).

Dearing on Aquaphobia documentary: We challenged myths

She added: “Aquaphobia looks at the myths of bone density and the unfortunate drownings which happen disproportionately to Black people, especially Black children.

“There were some very difficult conversations in it. It was my first bit of journalism and I really loved doing it.

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Dearing won the Sky Kick It Out award for Equality and Inclusion in sport at the British Sports Awards, becoming its first female recipient

“We co-founded the Black Swimming Association in 2020 to challenge the perception of what Black people can do in the water and highlight that Black and Asian people were disproportionately not swimming and disproportionately drowning because of that.

“The are Caucasian people in our programmes as there are community-wide issues, like finance and access to pools, which affect everybody.”

On her post-retirement plans, Dearing added: “I want to keep empowering people to enjoy swimming in their own way.

“I have been dipping my toes in the eSports arena a little bit so I would love to explore my opportunities there.

“Sport is such a key part if my life, it has given me everything I have and I am so grateful, so to step away from it and say I am completely done would be false.

“I decided to retire because I didn’t qualify for the Paris Olympics and that was my main goal. I wanted to improve on my result from Tokyo.

“I knew my time was done in the sport. Looking forward to LA (the Los Angeles Games in 2028) felt like a mountain to climb and I knew I didn’t have that in me.”

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