Great Swim, Europe's biggest open water swimming series, has announced Keri-anne Payne, Olympic silver medallist and Rio 2016 hopeful, will be an ambassador for their events for the next three years.  

The open water swimmer, who famously won a silver medal in the gruelling 10k marathon swim at Beijing 2008, will be encouraging as many people as possible to join her in the open water this summer.

Keri-anne, said, “I'm a passionate advocate of open water swimming, it's an exciting and rewarding sport that people of any age and any ability can enjoy. 

“When I won my medal in 2008 it was the first time open water swimming had ever been included on the modern Olympic programme, but I think it really struck a chord with people. Since then I've seen it go from strength to strength

“I've taken part in Great Swim events for many years, so I know there are a huge range of people who take part for many different reasons, whether its to complete a personal challenge, get fitter or raise money for a worthy cause.  I'm hoping we can encourage even more people to get involved this year and experience the joy of open water swimming for themselves.”

After an agonisingly close 4th place at London 2012, Keri-anne has her sights firmly set on Rio this summer.

“I'm really looking forward to Rio. The two Olympics I have competed in have been so different. Beijing was a real surprise, there was no pressure and I won a silver medal. 

“London was so different, there was huge expectation and that heart-breaking 4th place, but I still felt huge pride and a real sense of achievement.

“I know Rio will be different again, but I'm really looking forward to having the opportunity to represent my country and my sport once more.”

Great Swim will see over 20,000 swimmers compete in five events held in lakes, lochs and urban docks around the UK. The Great North swim will kick off the series with a three-day festival of swimming in the Lake District National Park from 10-12 June at Windermere, where up to 10,000 participants are expected.

Other events in the series include; the Great East Swim at Alton Water near Ipswich on 18 June, the Great Manchester Swim at Salford Quays on 2 July, the Great Newham London Swim, at the Royal Victoria Docks on 16 July and the Great Scottish Swim at Loch Lomond on 27 August.

Great Swim Event Director, Alex Jackson, said “ We're thrilled to have Keri-anne on board as an ambassador.  She's a true inspiration to so many of the people who take part in our events.

“We're sure her encouragement, tips and inside knowledge on all things open water swimming will help our participants to get the most out of their Great Swim experience.”