Taking the plunge: the black community inspiring us to swim

Don your swimsuit as we wade into the conversation around diversity in our waters & look at the figures encouraging us to dive in.


Are you a seasoned swimmer or have you never dipped your toes into the waters? Regardless of the stage you’re at, if your goal is to start or improve your strokes or just cool down in the heat of summer, you’ll be impressed by the number of brilliant people and places aiming to get more black swimmers off dry land and into the water.

Why? Well according to the Sport England’s Active Lives Survey, 95% of black adults and 80% of black children in England do not swim.

The Black Swimming Association (BSA) is doing something about it – and you only have to glance at the founders’ Instagram profiles to get a huge yearning to dive into your nearest pool.

First off, there’s Great Britain marathon swimmer and the team’s only black swimmer Alice Dearing. Recently recruited by Nike, she’s a great advocate for improving diversity in our waters – and works her afro puff with epic style.

Alice Dearing

Alongside Alice is Danielle Obe, inventor of the waterproof headscarf to allow more ethnicities to enter the water without fear of damaging their hair.

Next up is film-maker Ed Accura whose second film, Blacks Can't Swim: The Sequel looks at the issues of racial stereotypes and barriers to swimming.

Completing the foursome is Welsh-Zimbabwean BBC broadcast journalist Seren Jones. She explains why they launched the BSA last year.  

“Most of you know I was a swimmer in my past life and I’ve always been so grateful for the experience,” she told her followers on Instagram. “Swimming allowed me to travel the world, live abroad, it paid for my university degree, and it’s the reason why I’ve met some of my best friends. It’s also the reason why I’ve decided to give back to the sport that gave me so much.

“I’m so excited to introduce the @blackswimmingassociation a non-profit co-founded by myself and my amazing team with an aim to promote the welfare and inclusion of ethnic minorities and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds into the sport, with a focus on drowning prevention. It’s high time swimming became more accessible to everyone.”

Got our thirsty for a dip? Here’s a few UK spots to try out.

Swim in the city

Brockwell Lido

This historic 50-metre pool is nestled in the bustle of Brixton. Practise your stroke in relaxed fashion.

£8 per session.

Swim in the sea

Studland Bay, Purbeck, Dorset

The UK has plenty to offer in the way of great coastline. But this particular stretch of soft sand is a swimmer's paradise.

Swim in the open water

Shepperton Open Water Swim

This is a must for experienced swimmers to really get their open water fix. It’s a lake made just for the sport, divine.

Message them on Instagram to get booked in.

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