History-maker Dearing retires from elite swimming

22 Apr 2024

Olympian Alice Dearing has called time on a swimming career that saw her compete in multiple senior international events and make British Olympic history in 2021. 

Alice became the first black woman to compete for Team GB in swimming at an Olympic Games when she dived into the Women's 10km marathon swimming contest at the Odaiba Marine Park in August 2021, ultimately finishing inside the top 20 as she placed 19th on her Games debut.

That followed on from three successive World Aquatics Championship appearances for the Loughborough University athlete, with her debut in Kazan in 2015 over 5km followed by 10km outings in Budapest in 2017 and Gwangju two years later - all before she finished fourth at the Olympic Games qualifying race in Funchal, Madeira in June 2021 to secure that history-making Olympic spot. 

She had previously become both world and European junior champion too, winning the World Junior Championships the year after her senior Worlds debut.

Alice has used her platform as an elite athlete to make an impact on the world of swimming far beyond elite competition, co-founding the Black Swimming Association in 2020 and being involved in the Women's Sport Trust's inaugural Unlocked campaign the same year. 

Speaking about her decision to retire from elite swimming, Alice said on her Instagram: "From the little girl who was too scared to jump in the pool to the woman who stood on the shores of lakes and oceans around the world, swimming for her country. I've come a long way and I'm proud of the swimmer I became, but even prouder of the woman I am. 

"Ten years swimming for Britain at a senior international level. World and European junior champion. The first Black woman to swim for Team GB at an Olympic Games. Charity-co founder. Changemaker. 

"Swimming has provided platforms and opportunities for me I never dreamed possible, and as I move into the next phase of my career, I'm announcing my retirement from the sport. Now it's about continuing to give opportunities to more and more people to help them discover their potential, whatever that may be.

"Thank you to all the people who have raised me up over this journey. Too many of you to name. It really has taken a village. It's been fun. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. But my journey doesn't stop here."

Aquatics GB Performance Director Chris Spice was Team Leader at multiple major meets that involved Alice on marathon swimming teams. He said: "I know that everyone at Aquatics GB wishes Alice all the best for the future and everything she is looking to achieve away from the water. 

"As well as being a member of senior British teams for close to a decade - and always an absolute pleasure to have on those teams - Alice will forever go down as a history maker for becoming the first black female athlete to represent Great Britain in swimming at an Olympic Games, and we know she will continue to make an impact beyond our sport as well as within it now she has finished competing."

Alice Dearing walk out Tokyo 2020.jpg
Alice Dearing walks out for the Women's 10km event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games