Nuptials set Payne back on course for Rio return
Planning a wedding ranks pretty high among life’s most stressful experiences but for British openwater swimmer Keri-Anne Payne it served as a crucial distraction that prevented her quitting the sport.
The 28-year-old won a silver medal in the inaugural open-water event of the Olympics at Beijing in 2008. Four years later, she was well set for another podium finish in the competition, which was staged in Hyde Park, until a single mistake resulted in her being “swum over” by her rivals. Although she battled back from 12th, Payne had to settle for a fourth-place finish.
“That was pretty heartbreaking,” Payne said. “It was something that took a lot out of me physically and mentally.”
The light at the end of the tunnel were her nuptials to fellow swimmer David Carry the following month and all the preparation that entailed.
“Sometimes if you focus solely on one thing then everything else can seem so far away and so different,” Payne said. “If I had not have had a wedding to plan I probably would have struggled and my decisions could have been quite different.”
As it was, Payne resolved to remain in the sport, but only after taking a year out to travel the world. Together with her coach Laurel Bailey and Bernie Dietzig, British Swimming’s lead open-water coach, they devised a plan that Payne hopes will make the “best, most well-rounded open-water swimmer on that pontoon” in the event which begins today.
Payne, who hopes to release her own cookbook after Rio, openly admits that her training is unorthodox compared to that of her rivals. Judo lessons have been sought from Olympian husband and wife Gemma Gibbons and Euan Burton to prepare her for the rough and tumble that frequently occurs in the melee.
“I am very confident in all the training, racing and preparation that we have done,” Payne said. “We have done 200,000 metres of racing in the last two years. We have done a huge amount of other things, a couple of secrets that I cannot tell you about.
“I know the course, I know how to swim through waves. I am setting myself up to do as well as I can. Whether that’s on the podium is the absolute dream, but I wouldn’t be putting myself through the last four years if I didn’t think I could win a medal.”
Golden hopes: Keri-Anne Payne plans to improve on the silver medal she won in 2008