When asked about the perils of open water swimming, she explained about one terrifying experience, “…in Melbourne in 2007 at my first World Championships…in St Kilda just off the beach. There were thousands and thousands of jellyfish in the water the size of dinner plates. It took a lot of mental strength to get in there and swim. I got in and swam maybe 300 metres before I completely freaked out and had to be pulled out.”
We understand why Payne got out, but we think British dinner plates must be huge because those jellyfish were absolutely gigantic.
Specifically, the Port Phillip Blue Blubbers were large, nasty, venomous and all over the course.
During the race, the lead women in the large packs would swim over the jellyfish swarming in large blooms on the course. The leaders’ hands or feet would hit the top of the bell and cause the Blue Blubbers to turn over, exposing their 8 poisonous tentacles. The screams of agony and yells of pain due to the venomous barbs entering the faces, arms and legs of the swimmers who followed were unforgettable.
“They were big,” said 2008 Olympic gold medalist Larisa Ilchenko who defended won he 5km and 10km titles in St Kilda Beach. “I could hear girls screaming wen they got stung.” World champion marathon swimmer Angela Maurer who will race against Payne in London agreed, “My whole body just burned. There were so many jellyfish out there.”
But fortunately, swans and ducks will replace the blue blubbers in the Serpentine in London on August 9th at the Olympic marathon swim.
Photo above by Dr. Jim Miller shows Keri-Anne Payne (#11) with her hands folded prior to the 10 km race in Melbourne in 2007.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source