Today at the Olympics: Keri-Anne Payne ready to suffer in the Serpentine in quest for gold

Britain's world open-water swimming champion faces test of stamina today

Keri-Anne Payne likes a challenge. For one she has her wedding to organise next month in Aberdeen. An autumn wedding in the north of Scotland – she will marry fellow Olympic swimmer David Carry – is an event able to defy even the best prepared; being an open-water swimmer might be just what is required.

Payne is the best women's open-water swimmer in the world and will dive into the Serpentine at lunch-time as favourite to win gold, but it is an event that is on a par with Scottish weather for its sheer unpredictability. There will be 25 swimmers in the field, including all the top-10 finishers from last year's world championship in Shanghai.

Payne was first over the line in Shanghai, to claim her second world title, but the entire top 10 finished within 20 seconds of each other – that after 10km. Compare that to the men's 1, 500m freestyle in the pool, where 20 seconds only covered half the eight-strong field finishing, and it offers an indication of the competitiveness of the women's event.

"I don't think Michael Phelps ever thought Ryan Lochte would ever beat him, but he has," said Payne. "That's the beauty of the Olympics – it's all about who is the best swimmer on that day."

It has been a long wait for Payne to get into the water. She had her final practice swim in the Serpentine – which has been praised by the competitors for the cleanliness of its water – yesterday under the guidance of Mark Perry, Britain's open-water coach. "She's in good form and she's ready to go," said Perry.

It is a race she has been preparing for since last July when she won the world title and in so doing became the first of Britain's 541 athletes to qualify for the London Games. It has been an exhaustive process, 10 two-hour sessions a week and one of five hours for a race that will leave her aching from head to toe – most swimmers finish with thumping headaches after two hours in the water.

"I am always pushing my body to the brink of potential illness because you have to push it as far as we can so it breaks down and rebuilds itself better," said Payne. "That's how the training works, so you are always at risk of pushing it too far. We're conscious swimming outdoors for too long could push you over the edge. You learn that as you get more experienced – when to take time out and how far to push it."

Four years ago she competed in the pool as well, but this time she has had to watch as her team-mates have struggled, with the honourable exception of Michael Jamieson and Rebecca Adlington, who will be a bridesmaid at Payne's wedding, and look on as elsewhere Britain's medal favourites have, largely, matched expectation.

She shared a room with Adlington in Shanghai, doing sudoku to pass the time, but this time it has been a more challenging wait. Britain failed to win a gold in 32 events in the pool – a silver and two bronze means the swimmers will fall short of their medal target of five to seven but a gold from Payne would offer a welcome dose of painkilling.

Four years ago Payne won silver behind Larisa Ilchenko. The Russian is not in London and the main challenge will come from the likes of Martina Grimaldi, a Neapolitan policewomen who took silver in Shanghai, the Australian psychology student Melissa Gorman, and Marianna Lymperta of Greece, the world bronze medallist. But any of the top 10 is capable of having a decisive day, or a disastrous one.

"Being an open-water swimmer you have to be versatile, being prepared for anything," said Payne. "We've always been taught as swimmers to expect the unexpected."

What's on TV...

BBC 1 9am-11.30am, 11.30-1pm, 1.45pm-4pm, 4pm-6pm, 7pm-10pm

BBC 2 1pm-2.15pm, 6pm-7pm, 10pm-10.40pm

BBC 3 8.55am-12.45pm, 12.45pm-7pm, 7pm-11pm

9.30am Canoe sprint finals Men's C2 1,000m begins, with the men's K4 1,000m at 9.48am. At 10.08am there's the women's K1 500m in Final A, featuring Britain's Rachel Cawthorn, before pair Abigail Edmonds and Louisa Sawers are in the women's K2 500m Final B at 10.42am.

10.00am Diving The semi-finals of the women's 10m platform event takes place.

11.30am Swimming The 10km women's marathon takes place and home hopes lie with Keri-Anne Payne. The 24-year-old – the first Briton to qualify for the Games – will be desperate to go one better after winning silver in Beijing.

From 12:30pm Dressage Laura Bechtolsheimer competes in the individual dressage Grand Prix freestyle, as do fellow Britons Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester.

1.00pm Football The bronze women's match bet-ween France and Canada kicks off at the City of Coventry Stadium.

1.45pm Sailing Watch action from Weymouth as the men's 470 sailing medal reaches its climax.

3pm Cycling The men's quarter-final of the BMX Track, featuring Liam Phillips.

4pm Boxing Nicola Adams, the two-time World Championship silver medallist, goes for gold in the flyweight final where she faces Cancan Ren of China at 4.30pm. Ireland's Katie Taylor is in the lightweight final at 4.45pm, in which she is up against Russian No 2 seed, Sofya Ochigava, a repeat of the world championships final.

5.00pm Basketball The opening semi-final in the women's event between Australia and United States.

7.20pm Athletics British hopes in the triple jump final had fallen on Phillips Idowu, but the 33-year-old failed to qualify in the top 12 on Tuesday.

7.30pm Athletics Great Britain's Lynsey Sharp goes in the women's 800m semi-finals.

7.45pm Football The women's final at Wembley between defending champions the US and Japan.

8pm Hockey Men's semi-final. Great Britain continue their quest to emulate the boys of '88 as they take on the Netherlands at the Riverbank Arena.

8pm Athletics Briton Andrew Osagie competes in the 800m men's final.

8.55pm Athletics In the men's 200m final, the spotlight falls on Usain Bolt to complete a second successive 100m and 200m double at an Olympic Games, having easily defended his 100m final title on Sunday. But the 25-year-old Jamaican faces stiff opposition from compatriot Yohan Blake, the second fastest man ever over the distance.

9.00pm Athletics Women's javelin throw final.

9.20pm Athletics The final event of the decathlon, the 1,500m, begins.

9.20pm Taekwondo Jade Jones competes in finals of the women's -57kg division at 10.15pm, while Martin Stamper lines up in the men's -68kg at 10.30pm.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album