The World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year honors the woman who (1) best embodies the spirit of open water swimming, (2) possesses the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and (3) has most positively influenced the world of open water swimming during the year.
Her nomination from the World Open Water Swimming Association reads,
"Keri-Anne Payne was the face and standard-bearer of Olympic marathon swimming in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games. The odds-on gold medal favorite always carried herself with grace and elegance throughout the massive media blitz as if she were born into the role. Kind with fans, patient with the media, accommodating to sponsors, she was the epitome of an ambassador of the sport. Attractive, talented and well-spoken, the pressure and expectations to win was beyond anything anyone has ever faced in the open water world. To the disappointment of over 30,000 fans in Hyde Park including the Prime Minister, she did not live up to the gold medal expectations that engulfed her in suffocating fashion. Yet she never publicly lost her graceful veneer, humble attributes and role model charm. Despite leaving London without a medal, she was able to hold her head high and leave a true champion. For her strength of character, for her ability to rebound from finishing fourth at the Olympics, for her continued role as an ambassador of the sport, Keri-Anne Payne is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year."
The 2012 nominees are (listed in alphabetical order of their first name):
1. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil), World Professional Marathon Champion
2. Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden), Oceans Seven Swimmer
3. Annaleise Carr (Canada), Young Marathon Swimmer
4. Catherine Vogt (USA), Dual Olympic Coach
5. Diana Nyad (USA), Xtreme Dreamer
6. Esther Nuñez Morera (Spain), Professional Marathon Swimming Champion
7. Grace van der Byl (USA), Marathon Record Breaker
8. Janel Jorgensen McArdle (USA), Swim Across America President
9. Julia Washbourne (Hong Kong), Eco-Swimming Aquapreneur
10. Karen Gaffney (USA), Swimming Philanthropist
11. Keri-Anne Payne (Great Britain), British Open Water Icon
12. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA), Channel Swimming Late Bloomer
13. Risztov Éva (Hungary), Olympic Champion
14. Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia), Pioneering Administrator
15. Tina Neill (USA), San Clemente Channel Swimmer
Payne, born in South Africa, is a two-time British Olympic pool and open water swimmer and silver medalist at the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She was a gold medalist at the 2009 and 2011 World Swimming Championships and finished fourth in the 2012 London Olympics 10K Marathon Swim.
Payne represented Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the women's 200 meter individual medley, 400 metre individual medley and the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim. She was named as the 2011 Swimming World Magazine's Open Water Swimmer of the Year and has also won events from Great Britain to South Africa, including 7 consecutive victories in the aQuellé Midmar Mile.
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