Wonderland.

ALICE DEARING

The Olympic swimmer features in our SS22 issue and discusses making history, becoming a Nike athlete and learning to speak up.

All images taken from our Summer 2022 issue. Bra and shoes by NIKE, dress by BORA AKSU and jewellery by BULGARI

All images taken from our Summer 2022 issue. Bra and shoes by NIKE, dress by BORA AKSU and jewellery by BULGARI

Taken from our Summer 2022 issue, pre-order your copy here

While the 4th of August 2021 might have been a normal day for most, for 24-year-old swimmer Alice Dearing – history was made. Diving out into the cautious waves of Odaiba Bay on a humid morning in Tokyo, the swimmer marked herself as the first Black female swimmer to represent Great Britain at the Olympic games. Whilst Dearing cites the race itself as frustrating due to tactical errors, Dearing managed to land herself in 19th place while Brazil’s champion, Ana Marcela, took home the gold medal. Most athletes would have felt devastated at the outcome, but in Dearing’s mind, this was an opportunity to learn. “I very much try to take victory and defeat in the same way,” Dearing candidly says as she speaks to me via Zoom about the experience. “I tried to not let it get to me, and not get too wrapped up in the emotions of it all. Obviously, you should celebrate your wins, but you should also learn from your losses. The race wasn’t perfect by any means, but I’m constantly chasing that feeling.” Neatly sitting cross-legged on her bed back home in Loughborough, Dearing voices to me her past concerns on venturing into the Olympics. From qualifying only six weeks before the games to the mounting pressure she has put on herself, she cites the experience as a learning curve she’ll never forget. Spending her afternoon with me, the swimmer breaks down stereotypes within the sport, finding herself, and encouraging others to learn the same life skill.

Scroll below for a sneak preview of Alice’s interview with Wonderland now…

Swimsuit by NIKE and jewellery by BULGARI

Swimsuit by NIKE and jewellery by BULGARI

When did you realise this is what you wanted to do as a career?
“Honestly, not that long ago – made a year and a half ago – because I was very much doing it alongside my university work. I would swim and do uni, it’s always been intertwined with my education. When I was working towards getting my Masters degree, I was like ‘I’ll probably do another year and then call it’ because money is not easy to come by in swimming. Sadly, a lot of people struggle to get by. But then I got approached by Nike and I started getting more opportunities. So, I thought I might as well continue swimming, as we don’t really get a lot of support, so to have that really changed everything.”

Swimsuit by NIKE, dress by MITHRIDATE and jewellery by BULGARI

Swimsuit by NIKE, dress by MITHRIDATE and jewellery by BULGARI

How did you mentally and physically prepare yourself for the Olympics?
“This was a really tough one for me. I put all my effort into qualifying and when I did I was like ‘Oh my God, we have to go again!’ There was only six weeks [left to train] so the pressure was really on. It was a short amount of time for me to process the win, learn from it, and then move on to the Olympics. Going in so late to the Olympics was such an experience and it made me want to chase it more. I didn’t have the performance that I wanted by any means, and I think it was a tactical error that I made. It is one of those things you can for sure learn from. But don’t get it twisted, the fact I went to the Olympics is still crazy to me!”

Top and arm bands by CHET LO, jewellery by BULGARI and sports bra by NIKE

Top and arm bands by CHET LO, jewellery by BULGARI and sports bra by NIKE

Being so young and being so heavily spotlighted, do you feel pressure to come across a certain way?
“I’m super grateful that who I am as a person has just been accepted. I am an introverted person but `I have come out of my shell quite a bit, and I’ve had to learn how to speak to strangers. I think thats why I’ve waited a while to speak on Black [representation] in sport. Growing up, there were never a lot of Black people in swimming so its always been an issue I wanted to speak on, I just didn’t have the confidence at first. But it got to a stage where I was like, ‘I’m mature enough now, and I know how and what I want to say.’”

Top and shows by NIKE, dress by BRADLEY SHARPE and jewellery by BULGARI

Top and shows by NIKE, dress by BRADLEY SHARPE and jewellery by BULGARI

What’s one change you’d like to see in the sport?
“I just want to see more people doing it. I want to see more people learning how to swim. I just want to see as many people who don’t know how to swim or who don’t do it often to just get in and learn. I want everyone across the race spectrum to get involved because like I always say, water doesn’t discriminate”.

Top and shows by NIKE, dress by BRADLEY SHARPE and jewellery by BULGARI

Top and shows by NIKE, dress by BRADLEY SHARPE and jewellery by BULGARI
Photography
Jessica Pierre Ross
Fashion
Toni-Blaze Ibekwe
Words
Dayna Southall
Gaffer
Nathan Ford
Videographer
Miss Jason
Set Design
Tom Pande
Hair
Shamara Roper at Future Rep
Makeup
Kareem Jarche
Nails
Nadia Blanco
ALICE DEARING