South African born Keri-Anne Payne has been at the forefront of open water swimming in Great Britain. Trained in at the ITC in Stockport by Sean Kelly, Keri-Anne won silver in the 10k at the Beijing Olympic Games and gold in the world championships in Rome, again in the 10k. Keri-Anne also competed in the 400IM at both these championships. She is a former european short course champion in the 400m free.

1. How did the other kids at school react to the fact that you were swimming all the time?

I used to always get, “Have you been swimming?” When they started watching me on TV they were all amazed!

2. What was the turning point in your career?

Moving to the UK from South Africa and making my first international team aged 14.

3. What qualities make up a great swimmer?

Dedication is key but having fun is the most important thing.

4. Who has inspired you?

My family, and Steven Parry, Olympic bronze medallist in the 200m fly in Athens 2004.

5. What’s the main difference between pool swimming and open water swimming?

No lane lines, you can’t see the bottom, everyone in VERY close proximity to each other, jelly fish, sharks, etc.. the distance in the pool is up to 800m and 1500m, in open water it is 5k, 10k and 25k.

6. Which do you prefer and why?

Both. The pool because you have a neat lane and space. Open water because there is so much more to deal with. I like the tactics involved and it is a real challenge.

7. What are your pre-race thoughts or routines?

I try not to think about it as I get really nervous!!

8. What do you enjoy most about your swimming life?

All the amazing people i have met and the places around the world I have been.

9. What is your favourite line from a song?

Tiao Cruz – Stronger. “I can be bigger, bigger, stronger, stronger, harder, harder, yes I can be.”

10. What three pieces of advice would you give to a young swimmer that wants to reach the top?

1. Dig in all the time, always go that bit further. 2. If you’re still at school, be mega organised for swimming and school and it will be a bit easier to cope with both. 3. HAVE FUN!! If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you will not reach your full potential!