Keri-Anne ducks and dives for Team GB

25 July 2012 / 20:23


Open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne is used to battling sharks and jellyfish, but reeds and ducks are as bad as it should get for her at London 2012.

 Fresh from a morning swim in The Serpentine, where she became the first swimmer to test this summer’s open water competition venue, Payne (pictured) was in buoyant mood.

 “It was brilliant, I had to fight with a couple of ducks though but other than that it was pretty good,” she said.

 "It was quite fun swimming through all the reeds and getting tangled up in them but I managed to overcome that which was good! Seriously though, I’m glad I did it today because I got the first taste of it and was able to swim hard through the reeds, so that was great.”

 Payne, still only 24, is aiming to improve on the silver medal she won in the 10km open water event at Beijing 2008, by taking gold at the Hyde Park venue on August 9.

 And dealing with ducks and reeds is considerably tame when you consider the previous experiences she has had when competing at other major events around the world.

 "I can assure you that as an open water swimmer I’ve swum through much worse. I remember swimming in a beautiful location in Hong Kong, but we kept swimming past these big buoys and when I asked what they were for they said they were shark nets!” she said.

 "We were swimming on the wrong side of them so I kind of made sure I stayed in the middle of the pack in that one! Then I remember another occasion when we were swimming down a river in China, and everyone said there was a dead horse in the water but there wasn’t, just a dead dog!”

 As if braving dead animals in China and shark-infested waters in Hong Kong weren’t bad enough, it was an experience in Australia which Payne admits scared her the most. 

“I remember the 2007 Melbourne World Championships, which was my first major championship appearance and only my second ever open water swim,” she said.

 “We were just off the beach in St Kilda and there were thousands and thousands of jellyfish in the water, all the size of dinner plates. The day before the race we usually do a practice swim, so I got in the water but only managed to swim about 300 metres before I properly freaked out!” 

After that, ducks and reeds should be a swim in the park.

By Jon Waring