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Payne and Akinwolere make a big splash in Salford

16 May 2011

Olympic silver medallist Keri-anne Payne ensured a golden day for British Swimming as 2,000 swimmers made a big splash at the British Gas Great Salford Swim.

The event was broadcast live on BBC as part of its coverage of the launch of the Big Splash – a new initiative designed to inspire British people of all standards and abilities to take to the water.

BBC presenter Matt Baker and five-time Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe presented proceedings from Salford Quays as in-form Payne stole the show in the elite races.

The 2009 world champion led from the start in the 1-mile race before storming home in 17:33.91 with British teammate and Olympic bronze medallist Cassandra Patten (17:38.75) joining her on the podium in third.

And Payne admitted the success of the event was a positive sign for the future.

“It was a good swim, a good performance and a good day for British swimming,” said Payne.

“It was fantastic to hear the spectators cheering me on, especially on my home soil. The atmosphere has been brilliant – I'm really delighted."

While Payne and Patten – as well as Big Splash mascot Trunx – thrilled the crowds in the elite races, a number of celebrities and famous faces took part in the mass participation race – not least Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere.

The 28-year old, who is confronting his life-long phobia of swimming in deep water as part of the Big Splash, admitted he had surpassed his expectations in Salford.

“It was massive for me because I was genuinely petrified of deep water,” said Akinwolere.

“I finished in 40 minutes but I was expecting to do it in an hour so I managed to shave 15 minutes off which is fantastic. What the mind believes, the body achieves!”

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