Keri-anne Payne insists she has no intention of resting on her laurels ahead of the World Championships in Shanghai this summer.
The Olympic silver medallist has been in the form of her life this season, smashing four personal bests and clocking a British record at the British Gas Championships in March before sealing her spot in the open water race in China with victory in the LEN Open Water Cup in Eilat, Israel this month.
Her victory in Israel was particularly impressive, as she led from the start on the way to a new 10km personal best of 1:52.12 hours.
And while she is one of the favourites to reclaim the World Championship title she won in 2009, Payne admits the prospect of qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic 10km marathon race through a top-10 finish in Shanghai raises the pressure on her shoulders.
But the 23-year old is adamant she is using the prospect of Olympic qualification as motivation to keep her head down in the months leading up to Shanghai.
“I have trained and swam a lot better than I ever have done this year so I am quite confident going into Shanghai that I can make the top 10,” said Payne, who will be joined by Olympic bronze medallist and British Gas ITC Stockport training partner Cassandra Patten in Shanghai.
“I know I can’t sit at home and rest and think that I’ve done the hard work – it doesn’t work like that.
“It’s much easier to be the one that’s chasing someone rather than the one that’s being chased so I need to make sure I’m constantly one step ahead of everyone else and always pushing further and trying to be a better swimmer.
“For me now, my preparation is all about the World Championships and making sure that I’m in as good shape as I possibly can be and I finish in the top 10.”
Having enjoyed a week off after her exploits in Israel, Payne is back into full-time training with a high altitude preparation camp in Sierra Nevada on the horizon in early June.
And Payne admits the break from training – during which she joined the launch of British Swimming’s new participation initiative, the Big Splash, by taking gold at the British Gas Great Salford Swim – has been the perfect opportunity to recharge her batteries ahead of the second half of the season.
“As important as it is to train and do lots of hard work, it’s equally important after you’ve done a big competition to just relax and rejuvenate your mind more than anything,” said Payne.
“I’ve had that week of relaxing and recuperating and I feel ready to go again now. I’ll spend three weeks in Sierra Nevada which will be an interesting experience again and it’s all just geared to aid training so when I get to Shanghai I’m in the best shape I can possibly be.
“I was really pleased with how I raced in Eliat. I led from the beginning and just went for it and made sure nobody passed me down that last 200m. Fingers crossed I can do the same in Shanghai.”