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Nice Britain’s First Black Olympic Swimmer Is Hopeful Swimming Caps For Black Hair Will Be Authorized For The Subsequent Video games

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“I do know lots of people wish to be on the correct aspect of historical past with this. So I am very optimistic that there is going to be a constructive end result from it.”

Posted on August 9, 2021, at 3:35 p.m. ET



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Alice Dearing, the UK’s first Black Olympic swimmer, desires organizers for the subsequent Video games to approve swim caps that higher accommodate Black hair.

Dearing is one in every of 4 Black individuals who arrange the Black Swim Affiliation 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 many boundaries many Black girls face is a technique to swim whereas sustaining the well being of their pure hair. Many swim caps are too small for protecting types akin to braids and locs.

“It sounds ludicrous, however it may be actually damaging to your self-image and confidence as chlorine wrecks hair,” Dearing advised the BBC, “nevertheless it’s even more durable for women with thicker hair, which nearly all 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 said 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 provide them assist with their software to turn into permitted for worldwide competitors, together with the subsequent Olympic Video games.

Dearing advised BuzzFeed Information that she is hopeful that the Black swim caps will ultimately be permitted.

“I am actually excited,” she stated. “I believe this may in all probability undergo and go ahead and be usable at worldwide competitions. I actually hope so.

“I do know lots of people wish to be on the correct aspect of historical past with this. So I am very optimistic that there is going to be a constructive end result from it.”

Dearing stated that a variety of organizations should be educated and he or she is glad that they’re listening.

“It is not simply being thrown to the aspect like as probably it has been achieved previously,” she stated. “I am not insinuating that any group would do that on goal, however many years in the past these things would not have been so mainstream, it would not have been so seen and acknowledged.”

Dearing stated 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.


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Dearing and her brother took swimming classes collectively and he or she stated watching competitions was a household exercise.

“We might report them, rewatch them, like, it was like a correct household factor with me, my mum and one in every 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 nineteenth place, her participation continues to be historic as the primary Black swimmer for the Workforce 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 type 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 may very well be and stated it’s surreal. “It is simply type of like, I am simply the lady from Birmingham, only a lady from the Midlands in England,” she stated. “So it is one thing that is type of loopy. You by no means actually suppose you are in that place to assist affect or assist encourage or change somebody’s life in such a constructive method.”

Though Dearing is likely one of the few Black swimmers recognized internationally, she stated that Within the swimming group 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 other people gave the impression to be shocked that she swam.

“We all the time 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 truly affecting individuals’s lives and affecting the alternatives that they make each day. That is why I am so captivated with that.”

Dearing stated that whereas she isn’t very completely satisfied along with her Olympic efficiency, she has been getting messages of help.

“Actually everyone else is rather like, nicely achieved for getting there within the first place, nicely achieved for standing up, and having these conversations being a part of one thing that is larger than your self and advocating for change,” she stated.

Dearing is likely one of the athletes collaborating in Procter & Gamble’s Athletes for Good Fund, which provides 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 , 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 folks have actually taken the trip to help 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 worked up for the Paris Video games as it’s so near house.

“Clearly, I am simply type of aggravated and I by no means appreciated that London 2012 while it was round, however having type of, like, a type of a second probability with Paris … I am actually excited for, hopefully, that chance to compete as an athlete there as nicely.”


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