Olympic medalist and seven time winnner of the Midmar Mile
Keri with Chad Ho
It began with a chance meeting. When she was eight years old, at a training camp in South Africa, Bill Sweetenham, then the performance director of British Swimming, overheard her parents as they picked her up. He had been struck by Payne’s talent – she had been swimming freestyle since the age of five – but had assumed she was a local. When he discovered she was British, he could not believe his luck.
Sweetenham encouraged Payne’s parents to move back to Britain so she could get the best coaching and, in 2001, the family settled in Heywood, Lancashire.
Born to British parents in Johannesburg, Keri-Anne Payne lived in South Africa until the age of 13. She made an impressive entrance to the international scene by winning the 400 m freestyle at the 2004 European Short Course Championships in the week of her 17th birthday. Although she has competed in freestyle and medley between 200 and 1500 metres it is in the open water events that she has flourished. She placed 11th in the first World Championships in 2007 but improved her times considerably in the run-in to the Beijing Olympics and it was no great surprise that she took the silver medal at the event's Olympic début. Payne then won the 10 km open water at both the 2009 and 2011 World Aquatics Championships and was voted the FINA Open Water Swimmer of the Year in both years. She also won a bronze medal in the 400 m individual medley at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Interviewed by Penny Heyns at the Midmar Miile