Loughborough’s Dearing to make “bittersweet” Olympic debut (VIDEO)

Loughborough student Alice Dearing is set to make history later today as she becomes the first female black swimmer to represent Great Britain at an Olympic Games.

Dearing, 24, will compete in the women’s 10km open water marathon swim (22:30pm BST), and has described the occasion as “bittersweet”.  

“Being the first black woman to represent Team GB in a swimming event is kind of like bittersweet for me,” Dearing told Loughborough Sport.  

“I kind of wish it wasn’t me, just because I wish it wasn’t a problem or an issue that black people aren’t as involved in swimming as they could or should be.

“At the same time, it’s so cool to be part of history, part of breaking down a barrier that has stood for so long. I really hope people see me and think, ‘OK, if she can swim, I can swim’.”

Paul Marshall was the first British black swimmer to represent GB some 41 years ago. Now, in 2021, all eyes will be on Dearing as she races at Odiaba Marine Park.

Speaking ahead of the competition, she said:

“It’s not quite a dream come true. I never really dreamt it because I never thought it possible – so to achieve something beyond my wildest dreams is just an amazing feeling and I’m still waiting for it to sink in.

“My aims for Tokyo are just to train as hard as I can, have no regrets in the pool, and then get to the race venue, get to the competition and just fulfil my potential.”

The marathon is a notoriously difficult event with competitors embracing tough conditions in the water alongside a tight battle for position with fellow athletes.

Dearing added:

“I’m aiming for a minimum of top 10 because I think, if I execute my race plan as I should, it should work out in that kind of setting.

“It’s so difficult because there are so many incredible women I’m racing against and with open water it’s so dynamic. It’s two hours of racing, you never know what can happen within it.”

Dearing’s race will be broadcast live on Eurosport at 22:30pm BST.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/157

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