History-maker Eva Okaro ready to inspire at Paris 2024

Eva Okaro will dive into the history books at Paris 2024 as Team GB's first-ever black female swimmer in the pool.

The 17-year-old will make her Olympic bow this summer as part of a 30-strong British team, qualified as part of the women's 4x100m freestyle relay pool.

Alice Dearing became the first black female swimmer for Team GB when she plunged into open waters at Tokyo 2020 whilst Kevin Burns holds the title for the first-ever black British swimmer after competing at Montreal 1976.

Now, Okaro intends to grasp the opportunity to follow in their footsteps and inspire a new wave of swimmers.

"I think it's an honour and privilege to be in this position and to inspire other young black swimmers to know they can make it all the way," she said.

"Growing up I didn't see many other black swimmers in the pool, obviously I had my sister there, but it has changed slightly now. I see more people at competitions but not loads.

"I've never spoken to Alice before but have seen her training at Loughborough a couple of times.

"To be the first person to do anything is really inspirational anyway so she is an inspiration to me and loads of other young black swimmers."

Okaro started swimming as a baby and quickly progressed through the ranks at her local David Lloyd Leisure Centre before joining the Black Lion and then Sevenoaks Swimming Club alongside her sister Izabella. She won 50m freestyle bronze at the 2021 European Juniors, her first foray onto the international stage.

In a parallel sporting life she played international netball, making the England Futures team in 2021, but an achilles tear in a netball training session effectively ended her second sporting passion and threatened her progress in swimming.

But Okaro overcame that adversity and was able to dominate globally, selected for her second European Juniors just weeks after returning to the pool.

"Especially after an injury, it was amazing to be selected," she added.

"I was actually still injured when I qualified, I remember doing my races and then hobbling back to my coach because I was in pain.

"The fact that I got selected to go again was such a high point because I knew I could come back from injury and experience another international competition."

Okaro qualified for her maiden Games with a second place finish in the 100m freestyle at the Aquatics GB Swimming Championships, sealing her spot on the team behind Olympic champion Anna Hopkin.

The selection marks an immediate jump from the junior scene to the pinnacle of sport for Okaro, who has world and European junior records to her name.

And the swimmer, who already has aspirations to be a doctor after hanging up her goggles, is now ready to soak up a wealth of experience at Paris 2024 alongside some of her biggest inspirations.

"It was just a shock to know I was going to my first Olympic Games," she said.

"I didn't realise the weight of what it meant to be selected until after.

"It's pretty crazy to go from junior meets to the biggest meet there is but I'm really excited to be able to race with really experienced and capable swimmers and put myself in the mix.

"I'm going to get so much experience from the team.

"I don't know them all that well but I did go to European Juniors in 2021 with Freya Colbert and Katie Shanahan but I didn't really speak to them as I was only about 14.

"Then to see what Freya has now done, winning that gold medal at worlds was super inspirational to me."