Warrender head coach Laurel Bailey has praised the dedication and long hours that open water swimmer Keri-anne Payne has put in since relocation to Edinburgh less than four years ago as the duo prepare to head to the Rio Olympics.
Payne finished second in the FINA 10km Rio qualifying event in Portugal recently and last week she was officially named as part of Team GB for Brazil in August along with Jack Burnell.
It will be a third Olympics for Payne – having won silver in Beijing in 2008 and then finishing fourth in London in 2012 – and caps an amazing spell for her since moving north of the border.
The 28-year-old was born in South Africa, but has spent a lot of her life in England and came to the Capital after marrying fellow Olympic swimmer David Carry in September 2012.
For a number of months after the London Games in the summer of 2012, Payne was unsure whether she would continue her swimming career, but she got in touch with Bailey at the Edinburgh club and they have made a good team ever since.
Australian Bailey, who has been attached to Warrender for a number of years, said: “When Keri-anne first got in touch she wasn’t sure what direction her swimming was going to go in, but once she got into the pool along with the other Warrender swimmers her competitive instincts soon kicked in and between us we began to devise a plan regarding how to make sure we got her to Rio.
“Normally I am used to working with swimmers from a very early age so I can help them shape the way they want to grow as an athlete and such like, but because Keri-anne had so much previous experience at a high level – and was used to different coaches – it was a learning curve for us both.
“We talked a lot and agreed on some things and not on others, but it soon became clear that we had a good understanding and the same drive to succeed as each other and she has been a joy to work with since.
“As Warrender train at the Royal Commonwealth Pool we have been abroad a lot to help Keri-anne get enough open water training and events under her belt and over the last 18 months or so she has clocked up more kilometres than most in the world.
“It meant that she was very well prepared going to the recent qualifying event and she will be going to Rio to give it her all. I am lucky enough to be going too, so to see her competing there will be special.”
Payne believes relocating to Edinburgh really gave her career the boost it needed.
“Not everyone is lucky enough to get to train in a place like the Royal Commonwealth Pool everyday while the people at Warrender have been so welcoming to me and the young swimmers have helped me push myself on to this third Olympics,” she said.
“It is a great city and I love living in Portobello which is just a really nice place in the summer time and spending time there helps me switch off from training.
“Working with Laurel and Kris Gilchrist [the Warrender assistant coach and a former Olympian himself] has been great for me and they must take a lot of credit for where I am now.
“I certainly wouldn’t have put myself through the last four years if I didn’t think I could win a medal in Rio and now it is about putting the finishing touches to training.”