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Former world champion Keri-anne Payne backs Great East Swim and reveals her top tips

PUBLISHED: 15:09 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:09 06 March 2018

The Great East Swim is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Great East Swim is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A former Olympic silver medallist and double world champion returned to Suffolk to promote the Great East Swim and celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Team GB’s Keri-anne Payne, who retired from open-water swimming last year, was one of the Great East Swim debutants at Alton Water Reservoir in 2009 and will take enter again this summer.

Places are still available for all six distances, ranging from 250 metres to 10k, suiting all ages and abilities. The event takes place on Saturday, June 23. More than 2,000 people take part each year.

Payne claimed silver when the 10k open-water event made its Olympic debut in Beijing in 2008. The 30-year-old also won world gold in 2009 and 2011. Speaking at Crown Pools swimming pool in Ipswich, where she delivered a masterclass to Year 6 pupils from Springfield Junior School today, she said: “I really love the Great East Swim. It’s got an amazing community atmosphere. No matter where you come from, you feel part of this great family.

Olympic silver medallist and two-time world open water swimming champion Keri-anne Payne at Crown Pools in Ipswich promoting the Great East Swim 2018. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Olympic silver medallist and two-time world open water swimming champion Keri-anne Payne at Crown Pools in Ipswich promoting the Great East Swim 2018. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“To reach 10 years does not surprise me, and some of the stories over thee years have been amazing. Some people have been terrified of the water. Another was really inactive but did the open reach programme here in Ipswich and she has now entered the two-and-a-half open mile, which is really amazing. She now absolutely loves it. It is addictive.

“The great thing about swimming is that there is no discrimination. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what you look like, or overweight or disabled. Everyone can swim – and an open water swim like the Great East Swim really catches people’s imagination. It’s not just swimming up and down a lane at a pool. It’s outdoors, in the open, with nature.”

Ipswich School pupil Elliot Gladwell, 12, of Hadleigh, also attended the 10th anniversary yesterday. Remarkably, he won three under-13 gold medals at the Biathle-Triathle World Championships in Spain last year.

Children from Springfield Primary School in Ipswich celebrate 10 years of the Great East Swim. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Children from Springfield Primary School in Ipswich celebrate 10 years of the Great East Swim. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He said: “It is my dream to represent Team GB at the Olympics, perhaps the 2024 Games (in Paris). The Brownlee brothers (Alistair and Jonny, multiple triathlon champions) inspire me. I’ve read their book which taught me to never give up.”

Macmillan Cancer Support is the official charity for the event, which also benefits Green Light Trust and St Elizabeth Hospice.

Ipswich School pupil Elliot Gladwell, 12, of Hadleigh, who won three under-13 gold medals at the Biathle-Triathle World Championships in Spain last year. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Ipswich School pupil Elliot Gladwell, 12, of Hadleigh, who won three under-13 gold medals at the Biathle-Triathle World Championships in Spain last year. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Keri-anne Payne’s top tips to conquer the Great East Swim

First of all, enter it. You might think well, I’ll see if I do some training and then maybe enter it later. No. You have got to do it the other way around. If you enter it, it will encourage you to give you motivation to do the training. Be brave and enter.

Then start your training and go to your local pool. If you unsure of your technique, then find a swimming coach. There are tons of them.

From there, as it gets close to summer, find a wetsuit which fits you. You can hire them or buy them. You don’t need to get an expensive one. There are some really good wetsuits out there which aren’t expensive.

Then get out there, into the open water, in the wetsuit. You need to try it on. You don’t want to get to event day having never swum in it before. You need to have a go beforehand. Find a weekend when the weather’s pretty nice, go down to an open water swim, have a good time and maybe have a barbecue as well.

See here to enter the Great East Swim.

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