Keri-Anne Payne: the three-time Olympian taking her message around the world

WE TALK to Keri-Anne Payne about being a three-time Olympian and the business she's set up to inspire people around the world.

Keri-Anne Payne

Keri-Anne Payne grew up in South Africa where she realised she had a talent for swimming at a young age.


KERI-ANNE PAYNE grew up in South Africa, a country she describes as the perfect setting for swimming. When she moved to the UK at the age of 13 she knew that swimming was something she couldn’t live without so her parents researched clubs and she joined Dave at Aquabears of Rochdale. Here she formed a formidable working partnership with trainer Dave Crouch.


Keri-Anne has gone on to compete at the Olympics in Beijing 2008, where she won a silver medal, London in 2012 and those at Rio this year. In this exclusive interview we talk to her about some of the success she has had at The Games.


Read on to find out about the gruelling training she put herself through before competing at Rio and learn about her business, http://triscape.me/, which aims to help to people build the confidence to take on sporting challenges around the world.


What was it like growing up in South Africa and when did you realise you had a real passion and talent for swimming?


I was so lucky growing up in South Africa. The outdoor lifestyle I had grown up with set me up perfectly for swimming. Almost every weekend I can remember was either a pool competition with my older brother and sister or it was an open water mile swim. I knew from a very young age that swimming is what I loved! I just wanted to spend all day in the pool and made it my mission to become a swimmer. 


Keri-Anne Payne

Keri-Anne moved to the UK when she was 13 where she joined Aquabears of Rochdale and formed a working partnership with trainer Dave Crouch.


Tell us about some of your earliest successes in the sport and when were you first recognised as a potential star for the future?


I was about eight years old when I decided to swim my first open water event, it ended up being a night swim and I was a bit scared, so I swam it with my Dad. We had such a great time but I remember swimming so fast to try to get it done quickly! What I loved the most about that swim was everyone at the end talking about how much fun they had had and how they couldn’t wait to do it again! 


What was it like relocating with your family to the UK and how easy was it to continue your passion for swimming?


I was 13 years old when we left and swimming for me by that time, was part of who I was. Part of our lives and I wasn’t ready to give it up. My parents did a huge amount of research before we moved back to the UK to find a good swimming club. I was really excited to take on a new adventure so couldn’t wait to see what happened. My Dad relocated a few months earlier and he met up with Dave Crouch to give him an interview almost. I joined Dave at Aquabears of Rochdale and instantly bonded with him so the transition for me was seamless. 


Keri-Anne Payne

Keri-Anne has competed at both the London Olympics and those held in Rio this year.


What made you change your discipline to the open water swimming and what have been the results of this change?


The change stemmed for a few years of bad racing in the 800m event aged around 17. I had fallen out of love with training and racing. My coach at that time, Sean Kelly, suggested a change of focus and found out about open water swimming. There was a swim out in Australia that I could do and I’m so glad that I took up that adventure because I found my love for swimming again. It made me realise that I missed that outdoor element of my childhood. Open water swimming will always be a part of my life whether I’m racing at the Olympics or doing the Great Scottish Swim in Loch Lomond with my family. 



Keri-Anne focussed more on and competed in open water swimming from the age of 17.


You’ve competed at the Olympics several times including Beijing where you won a silver medal. Tell us what the experiences were like and what you achieved at Rio this year?


The lead up to London was perfect for me in terms of results, I was double World Champion so there was a fair bit of pressure on me to win. I had a lot of attention from Olympic sponsors too like Links of London, Next, Oral B and Max Factor. I must admit I had so much fun working with all these brands and felt it was a nice distraction from the day-to-day of my training. I spent most of my time in the water training and very little time out racing. I thought I was a mature athlete and I was making the right decisions. However, during my Olympic swim when things didn’t go to ‘my’ plan I didn’t know how to react and respond.


I finished that swim in fourth just 0.4 seconds behind third and four seconds behind the winner so it was a close finish. I was devastated with the result as you can imagine but what struck me the most was seeing 30,000 people around The Serpentine in Hyde Park all watching open water swimming! To have been part of that revolution of open water swimming not just in the UK but the World too makes me incredibly proud! 


My Rio cycle was very different, I realised I needed plan A all the way to plan Z. The only way I was going to achieve that was to truly become a mature athlete and take control of every aspect of my performance. I started by writing a list of what if’s, trying to figure out how to create plan A-Z. Together with my team we started to gather a list of experiences. From there I had to start experiencing them and the only way to do that was to race … Lots! In two years I have raced over 200,000m against the best swimmers in the world! I learnt a lot from drafting, to how I react when being pulled back, to learning my competitors race tactics. It was incredible, I loved every second of learning all these new skills and how I could put myself into all sorts of uncomfortable situations to learn from them. The strangest being a judo lesson with Euan Burton (Commonwealth Champion) to learn how to cope with violence in the race. Even though I finished seventh in Rio it’s satisfying to know that I gave it my absolute best, no stone was left unturned, all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. I couldn’t have done it though without my team and their support from day one. 


Keri-Anne Payne

Keri-Anne made sure she competed against the best swimmers around the world in the lead up to the Olympics at Rio.


What are you currently training for and do you have any exciting projects or challenges set for the rest of the year and beyond?


I am changing focus this year from competitive swimming to my new business, Triscape. We provide people with the confidence to help anyone take on their next sporting challenge. We have a team of World leading experts from Olympic doctors, physiotherapists, cyclists and coaches and we take them and guests to world class locations like Nevis, Saint Lucia, Loch Lomond & Abu Dhabi to help them achieve their sporting goals. My focus is on giving more and more people the confidence to take up open water swimming. Our next retreat is in Abu Dhabi, where we will be working with Le Meridien in its 100m sea lane, outside the hotel. We will coach guests to be more efficient in the pool and the open water. I’m really excited to take up a new focus for a while and help more people do the sport I absolutely love!



Keri-Anne is currently focussing on her new business Triscape which helps people build the confidence to take on sporting challenges.


Reader Comments

Share This Article