Keri-anne Payne Q&A

How did you get into long-distance swimming?

It was something that my first coach in Britain saw that I was naturally gifted for the longer distance events so it went from there.

When did you know that you wanted to pursue it as a career? 

From a really young age I loved swimming. My mum told me a story last week that when I was 7, I cried non-stop because my big brother and sister were going to their morning training at 5am and I wasn't! To shut me up she let me go swimming and it all began.

What have been your personal career highlights so far?

Winning my Olympic medal in Beijing is right up there with both my world titles. But my proudest moment was walking out for my London race to hear a crowd of over 20,000 people cheering and wanting to be there to support open water swimming

Tell us about your experience of London 2012.

London was amazing. I loved every second of being part of team GB. The parade through London was by far the highlight. I felt like a rock star!

What does your weekly training schedule look like?

10X2 hour sessions in the pool with 3 gym session on top of that each week. I aim to swim roughly 65-70,000m per week.

What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Swimming through jelly fish in Melbourne 2007! That wasn't fun. But over coming injury and illness is always tough.

How do you motivate yourself when things get tough?

Luckily for me, my training group and coach Laurel Bailey keep me motivated.

Do you have any race day ritual or mantras that you use to get through events?

I don’t have any race day rituals as I am so forgetful. I guess my superstition is not to be superstitious

What is your diet like?

I'm lucky that I do get eat what I want because we swim so much, but I try to make sure I get a varied and balanced diet so that means lots of carbs and protein.

What are your favourite post-race or training treats? 

Either carrot cake or banana bread. I love baking both of these and have the recipes down to a tee now.

How important is strength and conditioning to your training? 

It's important to keep strong in the gym so that I can get the most out of each swimming stroke, but it’s by no means the core of my programme

Tell us about the open water events coming up?

The main competition I’m working towards is the World Championships in Barcelona, but at the moment I’m also launching the British Gas SwimBritain event which is a series of swimming events that anyone can take part in. I’ll be doing the open water SwimBritain event on the 1st September at Blenheim Palace and I’m looking forward to joining all the open water enthusiasts – and first timers! – down at the lake.

What would you say to someone considering getting into open water or long-distance swimming?

Open water can be tough but it really is such a challenging and rewarding sport. The best advice I could give would be to give it a go and try to enjoy it.

What are your top training tips?

Try and find a training buddy. The reason I love training is because I do with a group of friends. That’s what I love about the SwimBritain event- you get to take part as a group and motivate each other. Also, don't be put off if you don't see an improvement every week - sometimes your body needs to adapt the training you have been doing and sometimes a change is as good as a rest.

Keri-anne Payne is taking part in British Gas SwimBritain, a programme aiming to encourage half a million people to improve their fitness by swimming more regularly by 2015. Team up and take part! Find out more here.