'We're sportswomen, not freaks of nature': Olympic swimmer Keri-Anne Payne hopes the success of female athletes at London 2012 will make sport cool for girls
15:08 GMT, 16 August 2012
She may not have come away with a medal from this year's Olympics but swimmer Keri-Anne Payne hopes she can achieve another of her goals – by getting people more involved in sport post London 2012.
In an exclusive interview with the Mail Online, the open water swimmer said she hopes the efforts of Team GB's female athletes like herself, Rebecca Adlington and Jessica Ennis, prove to young girls that it is cool to be sporty.
'I really hope youngsters now can see that with the likes
of Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Rebecca Adlington, you can be a girl and
still be sporty, healthy and fit at same time,' she said.
Inspiration: Open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne hopes more people will take up the sport
'Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton are engaged to be
married so it's not like because we're sportswomen we're freaks of
nature, it's not like that. Hopefully girls will see that now and be keen to get involved in sports.'
Keri-Anne is also engaged to be married herself – to fellow Team GB swimmer David Carry, who finished seventh in the 400metres freestyle final at London 2012.
Although the couple are set to tie the knot next month, Keri-Anne said they were not allowed to share a room in the Olympic village during their stay in Stratford for the games.
Instead she shared an apartment with her bridesmaid-to-be, Rebecca Adlington and other female swimmers. But she said even if sharing a room had been an option, she and David wouldn't have taken it.
Found love at the pool: Keri-Anne met her husband-to-be, GB swimmer David Carry, through the sport
'We class swimming as being at work so we are very professional in that respect,' she said.
As well as meeting her future husband through swimming, the 24-year-old said she has made many friends through the sport – which is another reason why she encourages young people to take it up.
She said: 'The social side of swimming, going training where I could see my friends was a huge draw for me. We all have fun being there
together. Swimming is a great way to make good friends. Most of my
life-long friends I met through swimming.'
Keri-Anne also thinks it's not to late for adults to take up swimming. She points out it's an all body workout so is a great way to keep fit and lose weight.
But while swimming is a full-time job for Keri-Anne, who won a silver medal in the open water swim at the Beijing Olympics, how does she recommend others with work and family commitments fit it into their lifestyle
She said: 'Go in your lunch hour at work and take someone from the office with you to have it more fun. Even if you only have time to go twice a week that's fine. Make it part of your routine.'
She adds that swimming sessions don't have to just be doing lengths of the pool.
'You can do different exercises that work just your arms or legs. If you keep things fun and fresh it's easier to keep it going,' she said.
Doesn't just have to be boring lengths: Keri-Anne recommends taking a friend, doing different exercises in the pool and listening to music on a waterproof mp3 player to make swimming more interesting
She said that the Speedo Aquabeat – a waterproof mp3 player – is a great invention for swimmers as it means they can listen to music to help them pass the time going up and down in the pool.
When it comes to diet, Keri-Anne said the hours she does in the pool means she has to consume lots of calories with a balance of carbs and protein. She also has a special meal she enjoys before races which she has loved since she was a child growing up in South Africa.
Admirable effort: The silver medallist at Beijing was gutted to finish fourth at the London Olympics, missing the bronze by four tenths of a second
'I have a recipe passed down from my mum
which sounds bad but it's actually amazing – cabbage lasagne,' she revealed. 'You make it by replacing the
lasagne sheets with cabbage leaves. It's one of the nicest meals I had
growing up and it's one I still make today.'
The 24-year-old from Stockport was an agonising fourth in this year's Olympics after a gruelling 10k swim in Hyde Park's Serpentine lake where she finished just four tenths of a second off the medals.
She said she was 'still gutted about the result' but found being part of London 2012 a fantastic experience was delighted with the 'incredible' support from the public and gamers volunteers.