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Exclusive: Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing's 'powerful' new venture revealed -  'This could save a life one day'

Alice is also the co-founder of The Black Swimming Association

Marathon swimmer Alice Dearing ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2020
Hannah Hargrave
US Deputy Editor
2 October 2023
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Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing is a superstar both in the water and out. As Team GB's first Black, female swimmer, she's used her platform to break down barriers for swimming for people of color and made her country incredibly proud. 

Now, the 26-year-old has another exciting venture and she sat down with HELLO! for an exclusive interview to reveal all the details. 

Alice is the new global ambassador for Water Babies, which teaches 47,000 babies and children to swim every week. 

Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing has collaborated with Water Babies and is now their global ambassador© Water Babies
Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing has collaborated with Water Babies and is now their global ambassador

Her passion was infectious as she spoke about the opportunity to give everyone the chance to swim and why Water Babies is so magical.

"Swimming is a basic life skill and I believe everyone should have access to it," she told HELLO!. "But Water Babies is about so much more than that. Seeing babies and children get that connection with water from such a young age is such a powerful thing, but it is also about the connection between the parent and the child."

Alice - who competed in the 10km marathon swim in the Tokyo Olympics back in 2021 - began swimming at the age of four and she remembers the lessons with fondness.

"I have very happy memories of my swimming lessons and not because I was determined to become an Olympic swimmer, because I wasn't. It was the proud moments I remember, like when I had my armbands removed, or learning how to pencil jump into the water. Looking over at my mum and thinking 'I've got this'. 

Alice Dearing with Water Babies founder Paul Thompson© Water Babies
Alice with Water Babies founder Paul Thompson

"It's magical to watch a kid achieve something and to see their face light up."

With Water Babies, there are a plethora of those moments as parents bond with their children in a fun and safe environment.

The company launched 20 years ago and is now teaching kids five and under how to swim in locations around the UK, Ireland, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, China and the US.

Alice Dearing with Water Babies' new characters© Water Babies
Alice is passionate about her new role

Alice hopes her collaboration with Water Babies can not only bring many more joyful experiences for carers and children but also teach them a lifesaving skill. 

"I recognise that I was privileged to have access to swimming," she continued. "To know that people don't have that access to learn to swim and could potentially drown because of it is really jarring. 

"I just really like to use my voice in whatever way possible to get people in the water. There may be some parents who don't know how to swim and that deters them from bringing their children to Water Babies, but it's safe for them too. Perhaps it would even inspire them to get lessons."

Water Babies teaches 47,000 children to swim per week© ANNA JAMES
Water Babies teaches 47,000 children to swim per week

Surprisingly, despite representing her country in the Olympics, Alice never really saw herself building a career out of her swimming. "I was eight years old, my mum put me in for sessions with the local swimming club," she remembered. 

"It was me and my  brother. We went along for a Sunday afternoon for an hour and I was really skeptical at first. I thought I'd rather be at home doing something else, if I'm being honest.

Alice Dearing is training to qualify for the Paris Olympics© Getty Images
Alice is training to qualify for the Paris Olympics

 "But we both fell in love with it. We wanted to get the best technique possible and would record the Commonwealth Championships, European Championships, World Championships on TV, watch it as a family, slow it down on half speed so we could see the technique of the athletes."

Gradually, Alice worked her way up from county championships to regionals and qualified for the nationals at the age of 11."I never looked more than one stage above me to be honest, because I didn't know where my limit was, but I just loved trying to beat the times."

Water Babies was launched 20 years ago© ANNA JAMES
Water Babies was launched 20 years ago

Alice - who is also the co-founder of The Black Swimming Association which promotes participation in aquatics and aims to increase confidence in swimming by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities - rose to the top of her game in open water swimming and is now training to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

She's also been inspired by Water Babies to work towards getting her swim teaching qualification.

"Learning to teach someone to swim unlocks a lot in a person," Alice added. "I've done my level one now and it has been really grounding. For the longest time, I thought I wouldn't be able to teach someone to swim because I wasn't sure how I could strip it back to show a child the basics. 

"But it has been wonderful. Seeing that lightbulb moment in a child is so rewarding. Being on the other side of it remembering where I started is really lovely too."

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