| LONDON, July 25
LONDON, July 25 Open water world champion
Keri-Anne Payne has swum next to shark nets, dead dogs and
dinner-plate sized jellyfish, so the Olympic competition
alongside a few ducks in the Serpentine will seem tame by
Following a dip in the lake in central London's Hyde Park, a
favourite haunt for swans and recreational swimmers enjoying a
refreshing workout before heading to the office, Payne said she
was pleasantly surprised by her first splash in the venue that
will host the 10km open water events.
"I had to fight with a couple of ducks and I kept getting
tangled in the reeds," the 2011 world champion told a news
conference on Wednesday.
"But I've swum through way worse things."
Payne, who swims 70 kilometres each week, was all smiles as
she entered the Olympic Park media room eating a yoghurt.
"I'm glad I did it today. It's not the most glamorous of
sports but we're all prepared for that when we get in," she said
of her morning swim.
The ducks and reeds were nothing compared to past
Payne passed enormous jellyfish at the 2007 world
championships in Melbourne where she came 11th. In China she
found a dead dog in her path.
Another time, when she queried what the big buoys were in
Hong Kong, she was told they were "shark nets."
"I made sure I stayed in the middle of the pack for that
one," she joked.
Payne spoke of the mental strength required to put such
obstacles to the back of her mind, but for all her immense
willpower and self-confidence she remains unassuming.
The Englishwoman, born in South Africa, is not in the sport
for fame or any of the trappings that can be dished out to
athletes, especially approaching Games time.
"I'm not in the sport to get recognition. I want to make
open water swimming a big thing in Britain," she said.
"I'm not going to run around screaming. People assume as
you're world champion the gold is yours but that's not the case
at all. For me it's about keeping a low profile."
British swimming received a huge boost four years ago in
Beijing when Rebecca Adlington became the first competitor to
win two golds at a single Games since 1908.
Adlington's face has been everywhere since, she even has an
aquatics centre in her name in home town Mansfield, but her
friend Payne is not envious.
"If I was jealous I don't think I would have made her my
bridesmaid," joked the 24-year-old.
Payne burst on to the scene aged 17 when she won 400m
freestyle gold at the European short course championships in
Austria, her first international event at senior level.
A solid performance at the 2006 Commonwealth Games followed
before she switched to open water.
She won silver in the 10km event in Beijing with a time 30
seconds shy of two hours and is the 2009 and 2011 world
(Edited by Martyn Herman)