Dearing and her brother took swimming lessons together and she said watching competitions was a family activity.
“We would record them, rewatch them, like, it was like a proper family thing with me, my mum and one of my brothers,” she said.
Fast-forward a few years and Dearing herself has swum in those competitions and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Although she came in 19th place, her participation is still historic as the first Black swimmer for the Team Great Britain.
Dearing also cofounded the Black Swimming Association, which aims to encourage and diversify the people who swim in the UK. Dearing said she wants to give back to the sport as it has given her so much 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 said. “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 one of the few Black swimmers known internationally, she said that In the swimming community she was not always the only non-white swimmer.
As she got older she started to hear whispers of people saying that Black people don’t swim and people appeared to be surprised 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 said. “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 said that while she isn’t very happy with her Olympic performance, she has been getting messages of support.
“Literally everybody else is just like, well done for getting there in the first place, well done for standing up, and having these conversations being part of something that’s bigger than yourself and advocating for change,” she said.
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