Did it take the pressure off going into the Olympic selection trials as the only athlete who had qualified?
It did take some pressure off at the time but I have had my fair share of nerves. I was in the same boat as I really wanted to make the team, so there was still that pressure but it was slightly easier – if it didn’t go so well, I wasn’t going to beat myself up too much because I’d qualified already.
How do you feel about having a home crowd?
It’s going to be so exciting having so many Union Jacks in the crowd and everybody going mental. We only had a fraction of the people at the selection trials, so there’s going to be so many more people there cheering for us at the Olympics – it’s going to be amazing being part of that whole experience.
Do you think that’s going to help with participation, especially at grass roots level?
I think, to be honest, with the Olympics on its way, it’s already helping; Pools 4 Schools is making a massive impact and hopefully with the Olympics we can carry it on. Grass roots are a huge part of swimming and I have certainly noticed over the last couple of years that it has grown significantly. Before I went to Beijing, people would ask me what open water was and I’d have to explain but, since then, everyone has their own little story: “I couldn’t sleep that night and I was up and I saw your race on TV.” It’s like a little snowball that’s rolled and rolled and become huge.
Do you think there will be a good legacy after the Games?
I think so. I’d certainly be quite keen to go and have a little cycle because it was the Olympic Velodrome. With the likes of the Olympic pool staying, that will hopefully keep people really excited about having a swim.
How different is your training as a distance swimmer?
It’s not massively different; we do the same session as the rest of the squad, so we’ll all do a heart-rate set or we’ll all do a threshold set on a Monday morning. An example would be 10 x 300m on 4.30 minutes, which is roughly about 1.30-minute pace per 100m, whereas mine is 10 x 400m and that’s 1,000m more in 5 minutes, which is a 1.15-minute pace. Generally, I finish at roughly the same time but, because I’m doing so much more and my session will be a bit longer, they’ll average anywhere between 5.5 to 6km on a good day, and I’ll be doing anywhere between 6 and 8km per session. So, I’m getting out 20 minutes after everyone else, which does get a bit difficult sometimes.
How much work do you do in the gym?
I generally do core circuits and cardio circuits. I do yoga twice a week for 45 minutes, but intense yoga, not so much the relaxing side of yoga. A normal gym circuit would be 12-15 exercises, 30 seconds on and 15 off and potentially up to a minute on and 20 seconds off. It will be push-ups, sit-ups, jumps and squats. I don’t really use much equipment: only skipping ropes, a medicine ball or a dumbbell weight.
How will you prepare in the final few months leading up to the Games?
Just training as much as I can, as hard as I can, and just getting on with it. And doing what I need to do in the pool to get that confidence, so that I know I’ll be on fire when we come to the Olympics.
And is a gold medal in your sights?
My goal is to enjoy every second of the home Olympics. It’s not something that’s ever going to happen again and possibly, who knows, it could well be my last Olympics. Anything could happen between now and the next four years, so I’m just going to make sure I enjoy every single second of it because I’d hate to get older and not have good memories about the home Olympics. So that’s my aim and my goal.
Keri-Anne Payne is a Speedo ambassador. For more information head to www.speedo.co.uk