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How and why do ex-Olympic open water swimmers still train?

We caught up with Keri-anne Payne and David Carry to chat about life and swimming now they’ve retired from elite sport

Since you have retired from international top-level competition, do you still “train”?

I think our bodies will always need ‘training’. It’s been drilled into us from a young age but our training these days is much less structured than it used to be. If either of us feels like having a day off, we certainly don’t feel guilty about it. We both love exercising and keeping fit so it’s easy to get up and go to the gym. I like exercising in the morning, so that I can get on with my day, but David prefers gym in the evening so sometimes one of us has to compromise. 

Do you still set yourselves swimming goals and structure your training and sessions?

If I’m totally honest we don’t actually swim that much, I spend a lot of time on a poolside coaching but for 18 years I swam up and down chasing that black line so I’m taking a few years way from swimming in the pool. But I do love being in the open water and every opportunity I get to jump back in I do! David is the same although he’s been retired for five years now, his working life doesn’t see him at the pool much unless we are away on a retreat. 

Do you still push yourselves to your physical limits?

Yes! We are both still competitive and always will be. I have always been fiercely competitive with myself, always trying to be the best athlete I can be so when I’m in the gym I am always pushing myself to the limit. David is the same although he loves working out with other people and has found the perfect gym just around the corner and comes home every day having worked incredibly hard.

How do you stay motivated?

We both love how it feels when we exercise, we feel like we have so much more energy and it always makes us feel better. So, I guess that’s our motivation on those dark, cold mornings: the thought of feeling energised is always good. Also, we live really close to an old swimming friend of ours, Alex Scotcher, so we have teamed up with Alex and both run to the park between our houses and do a park workout together. It’s so much fun and knowing that if we don’t get up and go we will be letting Alex down and it’s the same for him.  

Keri Anne Payne Teaching Img 4637 Copy

What do you see yourselves doing as swimmers over the coming years?

We hope when we are in our 40s, with the help of our business Triscape, we will have helped thousands of people to take up swimming and my aim is to get as many of those as possible to do open water swimming. If I need to keep getting into the open water to do that then that’s where I will be. One thing we have noticed though, in the last two houses we have lived in, is that we are drawn to water. Both David and I, when we go for a walk, we always end up at the water so I see water being a big feature in our lives forever. 

Do you both still get a buzz from competition even if you’re not as competitive as you used to be?

David totally loves a competition and it’s a real driver for him to get into shape.  For me it’s a little different. I always loved swimming because I was trying to be the best athlete I could make myself, so competing never really gave me that buzz. I get a real buzz from taking a step forward in my fitness or back when I was competing a big step in my training. 

How do you and David see swimming fitting into a healthy, active lifestyle?

Swimming is a sport that everyone can do no matter your age or ability and that’s what I love about it. There are so many different people swimming from so many different walks of life. Not only is swimming a great full body workout but it helps to beat depression too. Swimming has been proven to lower anxiety and stress levels. So not only is swimming a great thing to do for your body but it’s also a great thing for your mind. 


Keri-anne Payne won silver in the 10km marathon swim at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Her husband, David Carry, has also represented Great Britain in the Olympics in freestyle events. Since retiring from elite swimming Keri-anne and David have directed their passion for swimming towards teaching and coaching. They are running a swim retreat at the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club in Nevis from 21 to 28 March, incorporating the beautiful 2.5 mile Nevis to St Kitts cross-channel swim, which takes place on 25 March 2018

Find out more: tropicbreeze.co.uk and triscape.me/

 or call 01752 880880

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.