Keri-Anne Payne unveils British Gas Great Swim Series

Olympic open water swimming silver medallist and world champion Keri-Anne Payne launches the British Gas Great Swim Series, with a special training session at the Serpentine in London for some truly inspirational competitors. View video below (2m 47s flashplayer required)

Olympic silver medallist Keri-anne Payne put some inspirational pupils through their paces at an outdoor swimming training session at the Serpentine.

In the same stretch of water where Payne hopes to bring home Olympic 10km Marathon gold at London 2012, the 2009 world champion coached two-time cancer survivor Pamela Batchelor who is preparing for July’s British Gas Great London Swim.

Batchelor, 44, thought she’d hit rock bottom after being diagnosed with breast cancer, seven years after having a hysterectomy to treat a bout of cervical cancer.

But, inspired by charity campaigner and terminal cancer patient Jane Tomlinson, Batchelor decided to face her illness head on and after stepping up her swimming training, is adamant she feels healthier than ever.

“I started running and enjoyed that but I was getting injured all the time so I decided to give swimming a go,” said Batchelor.

“I’d never been a sporty person but I wanted to show people out there that there is life after cancer and you can do these things, especially swimming. It’s easy, it’s really good fun and open water swimming isn’t as scary as everybody makes out!

“It’s not just elite athletes either. The British Gas Great swims have people of all sizes, shapes and ages taking part.

“It’s been brilliant and I feel brilliant – I feel fit and healthy and just hope if I inspire one person who has had cancer that there is a life out there and it’s not a death sentence.”

As well as Batchelor, Payne was giving tips to three soldiers from 9 Parachute Squadron RE who are competing in the Great London Swim in aid of BLESMA (British Limbless Ex Service Mans Association).

And Payne insisted open water events such as the British Gas Great Swim series were perfect platform for people to get involved with swimming.

“Swimming is one of the most participated sports in the country,” said Payne. “Everybody that I’ve spoken to who has done an open water swim has told me they loved it and can’t wait to do another.

“One of the best things about it is anybody of any ability can swim. You don’t have to be an elite athlete – even if you swim once a week or once a month you give it a go. Just being outside and swimming with the elements in beautiful places such as Lake Windermere can take your breath away when you look at the scenery.”

Do you have an inspirational swimming story? Click to read more about how swimming can change people’s lives.