Alice Dearing, the UK’s first Black Olympic swimmer, needs organizers for the following Games to approve swim caps that higher accommodate Black hair.
Dearing is certainly one of 4 Black individuals who arrange the Black Swim Association within the UK, which goals to make swimming extra accessible for ethnic minorities, and told the BBC in 2019 that she understands why Black swimmers would stop over their hair.
One of the limitations many Black girls face is a option 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, but it can be really damaging to your self-image and confidence as chlorine wrecks hair,” Dearing told the BBC, “but it’s even harder for girls with thicker hair, which the majority of Black girls have.”
The International 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 said the caps are unsuitable as a result of they do not observe “the natural form of the head.”
Following widespread protection and rallying from the general public on-line, FINA reached out to Soul Cap to apologize and provide them assist with their software to turn out to be accepted for worldwide competitors, together with the following Olympic Games.
Dearing informed BuzzFeed News that she is hopeful that the Black swim caps will finally be accepted.
“I’m really excited,” she mentioned. “I think this will probably go through and go forward and be usable at international competitions. I really hope so.
“I know a lot of people want to be on the right side of history with this. So I’m very optimistic that there’s going to be a positive outcome from it.”
Dearing mentioned that loads of organizations have to be educated and she or he is glad that they’re listening.
“It’s not just being thrown to the side like as potentially it has been done in the past,” she mentioned. “I’m not insinuating that any organization would do this on purpose, but decades ago this stuff wouldn’t have been so mainstream, it wouldn’t have been so seen and recognized.”
Dearing mentioned she realized to swim at round 5 years previous, entering into aggressive swimming on the age of 8 after her mother noticed an commercial for an area swimming membership.
Dearing and her brother took swimming classes collectively and she or he mentioned watching competitions was a household exercise.
“We would record them, rewatch them, like, it was like a proper family thing with me, my mum and one of my brothers,” she mentioned.
Fast-forward a number of years and Dearing herself has swum in these competitions and certified for the Tokyo Olympics. Although she got here in nineteenth place, her participation continues to be historic as the primary Black swimmer for the Team Great Britain.
Dearing additionally cofounded the Black Swimming Association, which goals to encourage and diversify the individuals who swim within the UK. Dearing mentioned she needs to offer again to the game because it has given her a lot good in her life.
“I want other people to know those opportunities are available to them, and not kind of be pigeonholed into something because of their race or because society thinks that that’s what they should do,” Dearing said.
Dearing has also become a role model to many. She said it’s not something she thought she could be and said it is surreal. “It’s just kind of like, I’m just the girl from Birmingham, just a girl from the Midlands in England,” she mentioned. “So it’s something that’s kind of crazy. You never really think you’re in that position to help influence or help inspire or change someone’s life in such a positive way.”
Although Dearing is among the few Black swimmers identified internationally, she mentioned that In the swimming neighborhood she was not all the time the one non-white swimmer.
As she bought older she began to listen to whispers of individuals saying that Black individuals don’t swim and folks gave the impression to be stunned that she swam.
“We always laughed it off because my mum, my mum’s from Ghana originally, she grew up swimming and it was part of her lifestyle,” Dearing mentioned. “This isn’t just a joke like this is actually affecting people’s lives and affecting the choices that they make on a daily basis. That’s why I’m so passionate about that.”
Dearing mentioned that whereas she isn’t very pleased along with her Olympic efficiency, she has been getting messages of assist.
“Literally everyone else is rather like, nicely accomplished for getting there within the first place, nicely accomplished for standing up, and having these conversations being a part of one thing that is greater than your self and advocating for change,” she mentioned.
Dearing is among the athletes taking part in Procter & Gamble’s Athletes for Good Fund, which provides 52 athletes $10,000 for initiatives for his or her native communities.
“It’s been so overwhelming, like so many strangers messaged me, too many that I can’t even reply to,” she mentioned. “But you know, I can really feel that I’m supported and uplifted by all these people. And it’s a feeling that I’ll never forget, honestly, it’s just so powerful. I’m so honored that people have really taken the time out to support me.”
Dearing mentioned she didn’t get an opportunity to see any of the reside competitions when the Olympics had been within the UK, however she is worked up for the Paris Games as it’s so near dwelling.
“Obviously, I’m just kind of annoyed and I never appreciated that London 2012 whilst it was around, but having kind of, like, a kind of a second chance with Paris … I’m really excited for, hopefully, that opportunity to compete as an athlete there as well.”