Swim England

A nation swimming

Congratulations to Alice ... a catalyst for cultural change and an inspiration to us all

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson hails Alice Dearing after she achieved an Olympic Games qualification place.

She is inspirational and a catalyst for cultural change – and now she is set to rewrite the history books.

Alice Dearing might have just finished outside the medals in the Women’s 10km Marathon Swimming event in Setubal, Portugal, on Sunday – but it was the best fourth-place of her life.

It ensured she would be nominated for a place in the Team GB squad heading to Japan for the rearranged 2020 Olympic Games – which is due to be ratified in the coming days by the British Olympic Association.

When Alice competes in Tokyo, she will become the first black woman to represent Great Britain in an Olympic swimming event.

Our huge congratulations from everyone at Swim England go to her on an amazing achievement.

It was heartening to hear Alice explain how she hopes her Olympic adventure will motivate thousands of black swimmers to follow in her footsteps.

We certainly hope that will be the case.

Increasing ethnic diversity throughout all of our aquatic sports is a key aim for Swim England.

We know there is under-representation.

We know there are misconceptions that prevent participation.

Continued passion

We know 95 per cent of black adults and 80 per cent of black children in England do not swim.

We know that only around seven per cent of our club membership are from diverse ethnic communities.

These are startling statistics but we’re working hard to change them.

While Alice’s success will be a major factor in helping us achieve that goal, a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to ensure our sports become more diverse.

We continue to work closely with partners including Sporting Equals and the Black Swimming Association – of which Alice is a founding member – to address this inequality.

Our diverse board have a continued passion about ensuring people from all backgrounds are experiencing the joys of aquatic activity.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will also open up new avenues to increase participation.

Our Peers on the Poolside project is seeking to recruit a more representative workforce through a targeted recruitment and training programme.

A Foundations of Inclusivity Continual Professional Development – utilising insight from Sporting Equals – is due to be launched shortly, which will focus on disability, ethnicity and LGBTQ+ communities and will look at appropriate and effective approaches to inclusion for club members, volunteers and officials.

Much more to be done

We’re also focusing on club projects which promote greater diversity within swimming in a bid to develop more participants, volunteers and officials from ethnic diverse communities and a wider range of socio-economic groups.

We’re proud that, alongside British Swimming, we were awarded the nationally-recognised Advanced Equality Standard for Sport award.

It is awarded to sporting organisations that have demonstrated, among other things, significant progress towards diversity across their staff, board, members, coaches and participants.

The Standard recognised the positive steps we have taken but we know that there is still much more to be done.

With that in mind, we are developing a comprehensive action plan featuring all the ongoing projects and more upcoming work in this area. This will be launched in the very near future.

This is just the beginning and we believe we have passion to ensure that swimming is accessible to everyone.

We wish Alice all the best in her bid for a podium place – but as role models go, she is already a champion.