Salma Hayek is an American film actress, producer and former model. She began her career in Mexico starring in the telenovela Teresa and starred in the film El Callejón de los Milagros for which she was nominated for an Ariel Award.
One of her exceptional films is Frida, the true story of Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera, the larger-than-life painters who became the most acclaimed artists in Mexican history, and whose tempestuous love affair, landmark journeys to America, and outrageous personalities made them legendary.
She said something that reminded me of the super talented British swimmer Keri-Anne Payne.
Ms. Hayek once expressed, “What is important is to believe in something so strongly that you’re never discouraged.”
Enjoying the brilliant swimming career of Keri Anne is a storyline in overcoming extreme obstacles without being discouraged.
It’s the perfect intense movie script of woman vs woman, woman vs self and woman vs nature.
Keri has won all of those battles.
Let’s meet her.
Keri-Anne Payne is a South African-born British swimmer, specializing in marathon open water swimming, and long-distance freestyle swimming in the pool. She is a two-time 10-kilometer open water world champion, and an Olympic silver medalist.
Ms. Payne was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to British parents, who registered her birth at the British Consulate. She started swimming aged 4, and was noticed aged 8 by British Swimming‘s national performance director Bill Sweetenham at a training camp in South Africa.
As a result, the family returned to the England when she was 13.
At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, she competed in the 200-metre individual medley and 400-metre individual medley swimming events, as well as the 10-kilometre open water event, in which she placed second and won a silver medal.
At the 2009 World Aquatics Championships, held in Rome, Keri Anne won the 10-kilometer open water event. She finished first in a time of two hours, one minute and 37.1 seconds.
Are there more awards?
Of course there are.
In 2011 in Shanghai, she reclaimed the World Championship in the 10 km Open Water event, becoming in the process the first British athlete in any sport to confirm qualification for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Now the plot thickens.
WOMAN VS NATURE
What is open water swimming?
According to the informative site worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com, “Open water swimming shall be defined as any swimming event that takes place in rivers, lakes, oceans, channels, canals, estuaries, bays, seas, dams, reservoirs, fjords, basins, lochs, coves, meres, firths, sounds, straits, bays and harbors.”
They continue, “Marathon swimming shall be defined as any open water swimming event at least 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in distance.”
Now for a small bit of history.
The educational site usaswimming.org shares, “Open Water swimming reached a new level of international exposure by becoming an official event at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Open Water swimming presents a unique set of challenges to swimmers. There are no lane lines, walls, or starting blocks to dictate what it takes to win. The elements often play a deciding role in determining the winner of an Open Water event. The unpredictable conditions also make it possible for women and men to compete alongside one another.”
Now for the dangers.
Under certain conditions, you can lose your life. Here is briefly a very unfortunate news event that speaks to that.
Mr. Francis Crippen (April 17, 1984 – October 23, 2010) was an American long-distance swimmer. After being a pool swimmer for most of his career, Mr. Crippen made the transition to open water swimming in 2006.
In international competitions, Mr. Crippen won seven medals, five of which were in the open water and two in the pool.
Unfortunately he died during in an open water swimming race in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 at the age of 26.
The accounts reviewed indicated that the waters he swam in became too warm.
His great accomplishments and memory will never be forgotten.
When Keri-Anne accomplishes her important goals, she’s achieving it in an environment where certain elements beyond her control, including aggressive sharks, can prove fatal.
WOMAN VS WOMAN
One of the intriguing aspects of open water competitions is that since you are swimming closely with others, it can be a bruising, painful and sometimes bloody affair.
On July of 2013 the respected global news source theguardian.com reported, “Keri-Anne Payne emerged battered from an extraordinarily brutal 10km open water race she described as “carnage” as she relinquished her crown at the world championships in Barcelona.
Payne was close to tears after she came in 14th in 1hr 58min 25.8seconds.”
They quoted Keri-Anne as expressing, “I am so disappointed that girls think they can be that rough during the race and get away with it. I was getting ducked, getting dunked, getting hit in the face, getting pushed about and swum over. It’s just not what I was hoping I guess.”
As you can see, it can also be a somewhat aggressive or violent sport depending upon who you compete against.
Keri is a true warrior.
WOMAN VS SELF
Keri’s super star accomplishments are not without internal challenges.
On July 28, 2015 the Guardian also shared, “Keri-Anne Payne failed to clinch a spot for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio when she came home 15th in the 10km marathon swim at the World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia, but she will have another chance to qualify.”
And how did she respond to adversity? Did she become discouraged?
She stated, “Obviously I would have loved to have qualified for the Olympics a year out because it would have meant training would have been a little easier to focus on. But there’s still another chance to go and qualify.”
She’s clearly not going to give up.
Let’s travel to the extended village, Johannesburg, South Africa, the place of Keri’s birth.
Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of its inland Gauteng province, began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement.
The global travel experts lonelyplanet.com come exudes, “Johannesburg, more commonly known as Jo’burg or Jozi, is a rapidly changing city and the vibrant heart of South Africa. After almost 20 years of decline and decay, the city is now looking optimistically towards the future. Its center is smartening up and new loft apartments and office developments are being constructed at a rapid pace.
The cultural districts of Newtown and Braamfontein, with their theatres, restaurants, cafes and museums, teem with creativity and energy. The Inner City itself, once a no-go zone, is becoming a tourist gem, with plenty of pleasant surprises. Oh, and there’s Maboneng. On the eastern fringes of the Inner City, this hipster-friendly urban neighborhood is considered as one of the most successful urban-renewal projects in the world – it’s sure to seduce you.”
The locals are very friendly and the city site joburgtourism.com smiles, “more than 3 million people calling this bustling metropolis home. Joburg, or Jozi as some prefer to call it, offers visitors an experience as unique and diverse as the city itself. Whether you are on business, in search of a cultural encounter, an adrenaline rush or simply want to relax and unwind for a few days, the city of Johannesburg has everything you’re looking for and more!”
Sounds like great fun in the sun coupled with a vibrant night life.
Keri lives in England now and her rise to great heights appears to reflect both cultures.
For many of our readers we have introduced a new and exciting culture to you. It’s the world of open water swimming.
What a beautiful ambassador and model of fortitude to introduce us to that world.
She makes for a great story plot, complete with challenges, triumphs and the incredible will to overcome obstacles, stay iron willed and very determined to win.
~ ~ ~
Sources: brainyquote.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling2.com, FCI Elite Competitor, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.