It is Keri-Anne’s determination through sport and passion for keeping our oceans blue that has made her a strong ocean advocate who lives her personal and professional life with sustainable choices at the forefront. She inspires us with her firsthand experience and story in this Message In A Bottle Interview.
Hello 👋 Keri-Anne Payne here, Olumpic silver medalist and 2x world champion for 10k open water. I am very excited to have a nature unite bottle, and a message in the bottle. I really do love this brand and I love what they are trying to do because it really does mean a lot to me and what my values are which is about making sure that we keep our oceans safe and clean.
WHO ARE YOU?
My background is in open water swimming, I swam in the pool as a kid and lived in South Africa and then moved to the UK with my parents to Manchester in 2001 and was very lucky that I had the opportunity to represent TeamGB at 3 Olympic games, the Beijing Olympics, the London home Olympics, which was just incredible, and finally the Rio 2016 Olympics which was my last Olympic games.
Having retired from competitive sports was amazing, I feel like I did everything I could within the sport and I was really looking forward to having the loving life outside that, so in 2015 I set up my business called Triscape, which is a coaching business where we take people to wonderful places around the world to swim in the most incredible oceans and teach them how to swim. I am all about inspiring people to take onboard more swimming, and that’s been even further cemented into what I am doing now in my day-to-day job so 2017 we set up another business called Straight Line Swimming which is all-around coaching coaches, so my day job now is that I am a tutor for an open water coaching qualification all based around making sure that coaches feel confident and comfortable taking people out to open water whether that’s in the sea or lakes. We spend a huge amount of time talking about the safety aspects of ocean water swimming but also the coaching side of things and how to be a great coach, open water skills and swimming techniques, and I absolutely love that day job. What also comes with that is a great responsibility to make sure that all our coaches are aware of the safety of the oceans and everything in it, so we do spend a lot of time talking about how we can all do our part to keep our oceans nice and clean and being as environmentally friendly as possible.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AS ENVIRONMENTALLY AWARE AS YOU ARE TODAY?
I remember a couple of times when I did my open water swimming, we would travel around the world and go to the same places to compete in different races. And the thing I notice the most was when I went to some of these places that I had been to before I noticed that there was so much more rubbish, plastic cups bottles cans and plastic plates, just rubbish and litter in the sea. It was a moment when I thought, that is just not on, it's amazing how quickly that change has gone from beautiful seas and oceans and the bottom looking amazing and looking for fish to basically having the spot the fish in among the plastic. That had a pretty big impact on me.
To be completely honest I feel a bit at fault for that, one of the things we did for events was to have gel packs because we should be swimming for 2 hours non-stop and we would have 2-3 gels to get energy for the last part of the race. To my absolute shame and something, I do still feel bad about and I am trying to right the wrongs we made back then. If we weren’t able to keep them in the back of our suits for the whole swim they would, unfortunately, be lost at the bottom of the lake or ocean.
All those events are now trying very hard to make sure that is not the case anymore, so there are usually clean-ups at the end of swims. I really wish I had a bit more sense and understanding of how important this was going to be when I was younger when I could have made changes whilst I was still in the sport not just now when I have finished the sport. That is something I do regret and I am trying my best to make up for that now, but being honest with the mistakes you have made is allowing us to move forward.
IN WHAT WAY ARE YOU BRINGING POSITIVE CHANGES TO YOUR COMMUNITY?
My open water coaching community, we are talking to them to make sure that they are keeping our beaches and venues they go to clean and safe but also that they are thinking about the stuff they are using. So for example tow floats aren’t that environmentally friendly, there are some companies that are trying to make them better, but they are really good tools and if you look after them well you can keep them for many years. They are a great visibility thing so when people go open water swimming, I much rather them using a tow float for safety and visibility and something to hold on to, rather than not. Although it is not contributing to protecting the environment it is going a long way for keeping open water swimmer safe in the oceans around the world. You need to look after it by washing it afterward, you fix it if you have a puncture rather than buying a new one.
NAME ONE SMALL BUT POWERFUL CHANGE PEOPLE CAN MAKE
The stuff that we have in your house, before taking it to the dump, think about it. Can we repurpose it or can we reuse it for something different. Just because you would like to have a nice looking paddle pool then the one you have had for the last 5 years doesn’t mean that you have to buy a new one, if there is a puncture in it try and fix it first.
Whatever you have in your house and you are thinking about chucking it in the dump, look at it first and think is there somewhere else I can use this or something else I can do with it or somebody that needs it or I can sell it to so that they can reuse or repurpose it. That will help us being more conscious about the stuff we buy, and making sure that they will be more long-lasting and not just for five minutes and for the stuff you do have at home, is there a way for you to repurpose or reuse it.
PLEASE SHARE A KEY RESOURCE THAT YOU LOOK TO FOR GUIDANCE
To be honest, I look to Nature Unite. I really enjoy the small change they are talking about and I have already started making some changes. I used to be bad at keeping bottles and didn’t take water with me because I was worried about losing the bottle. I really do love this bottle and that I can connect it to my bag and it means that I keep it with me because I love it. It really means something to me and our oceans and the world to have I, so I do take a lot of care to make sure I don’t lose it.
And the little bits of information I have found out from Nature Unite’s campaigns certainly making me think about the things I am doing, from the washing powder, dishwasher tablets and buying glass bottles rather than plastic, it might cost a little bit more but I feel much better and I am having an impact.
Because I have been googling a lot of things that are environmentally friendly, all my adverts are eco-friendly which I am enjoying, when I had my daughter, who is 21 months now, it was all about baby stuff, now it is all about eco-friendly stuff, so I am learning a lot about that, so I am looking forward to seeing more about that and sharing it with friends who are looking at similar things. Just do some research and doing your part, are you a contributor to the problem or are you helping to solve the problem. I hope that’s been interesting and helpful. Go out and buy the bottle because it's not just the bottle but the community and message they are sending out.
MORE ABOUT KERI-ANNE
Full name - Keri-Anne Michelle Payne
From - London, UK
Main occupation - Empowering the world to swim outdoors anyway I can
Favourite place in the world is - Where my family is
My favourite book right now is - The whale and the snail (21 month old daughter)
I cannot live without - Coffee
My ocean spirit animal is - Sea turtle for sure
Three words that would describe me are - I can never answer this
My favourite thing about our oceans is - The life it has living in it
First activity in the morning is - Pressing snooze
One of my dreams in life is - To enable the world to be able to swim
My go-to sustainable product is - The Nature Unite bottle and EcoEgg
My bucket list includes - Go swimming with turtles with my daughter
My bucket list includes - Empowering the world to swim but to also love the environment - I think living it and seeing the changes will make people really stop and listen. The more people that can swim will realise how amazing the ocean is and how much we need to protect it.
Do you want to get to know Keri-Anne better? Follow her on Instagram @kerianne_payne and her business @triscape_