Keri-Anne Payne is a trailblazer for Open Water in Great Britain. After funding was cut for her performances at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, she tried her hand at open water. With her silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, interest in the sport exploded back home. That continued to grow as Payne was crowned with two world championship titles.
Payne was born to British parents in Johannesburg, South Africa. She began learning to swim at four. She quickly developed into a talented youngster and was discovered by Director of British Swimming, Bill Sweetenham while on a training camp in South Africa. At age 13, her family relocated back to England so Payne could focus on swimming.
Payne was just 16 years old when she took her first senior international title, winning gold in 400 meter freestyle at the 2004 European Short Course Championships. From then on she was a staple for the British squad. In 2006, Payne failed to medal at the Commonwealth Games, finishing 4th in 800 meter freestyle and 6th in 400 meter medley. The next year she tried out open water swimming and came away with a 11th place finish at the 2007 World Championships in the 10k.
2008 Olympic Games
Picking up the open water event proved to be a great career move for Payne in Beijing. In her debut at an Olympic Games, she claimed a silver in the 10k. Payne and her British teammate, Cassie Pattern lead the pack for almost the whole race. But in the final 150 meters the pair were over hauled by Russia’s Larisa Ilchenko late charge. The Brits took the other two podium places.
Payne also made an appearance in the pool in the medley events. She finished 16th in the 200 meter and 15th in the double distance.
2009 FINA World Championships
In Rome, Payne was on double duty again in the pool and open water. Despite her tough schedule, she won her first World Championship in the 10k marathon. In the pool, she finished 13th and 24th in the 400 and 200 meter medley, respectively.
2010 Commonwealth Games
In the pool, Payne claimed bronze in her only event, 400 meter medley.
2011 FINA World Championships
As the reigning 10k world champion, Payne was the one to beat in Shanghai. She didn’t disappoint and defended her title and picking up an Olympic Qualification in the process. She was the first Briton in any sport to gain qualification for the games. In the pool, she finished 12th in the 1500 meter freestyle.
2012 Olympic Games
In front of a home crowd in London, Payne faced a tough battle in the marathon event. Entering the final lap, Payne was in fifth place just four seconds behind the leader. She managed to move up one place to finish 4th in a close fought ending. The first four places were split by just four seconds.
Post London Olympics
After missing the podium in London and marrying fellow Olympic swimmer David Carry a month later, Payne was unsure whether to continue her swimming career. She ultimately decided to continue through the 2016 Olympics but made a huge change. After spending most of swimming career at Stockport Metro under coach Sean Kelly, Payne decided to move to Warrender Bath swimming club in Scotland, her new husbands home country.
Qualifying for Rio
Payne missed out on Olympic qualification after a 15th place finish at the 2015 World Championships. But with another chance to qualify, her dreams of Rio were still achievable. At the qualifying event in Portugal, she needed a top nine spot to qualify. She managed much better, taking silver to qualify for her third games.