She knew straight away when the podium slipped out of sight. ?The race was a lot rougher than normal,? she recalls. ?But it was at the feeding station on the third lap when I got hit a couple of times and suddenly, having been first, I was eighth and then I had to catch up. It took so much energy and that meant I didn?t have quite enough at the end?.
If it was any consolation Payne had other things to concentrate on immediately after her race: her marriage was just four weeks away. ?That helped console me ? it meant that, straight after the race, I had a new focus,? she said. ?David (Carry, her then fianc?) was amazing, he was so important for me.?
Payne admits thoughts of retirement have drifted through her head but when she reflected on her year she took some pride from her fourth place.
In the lead-up to the Games she had battled a kidney infection ? which she kept secret from the wider world ? and her coach had been ill. She took enormous strength from the thousands of people who had lined Hyde Park, many of them there to watch her compete.
?That moment of real excitement, that spark of competing, I know I want to do that again,? she insisted. But the Olympic experience has brought about significant life changes. She has changed clubs to Warrender Baths, moved house from Manchester to Scotland and started swimming again, this time in the pool, not open water.
At the Edinburgh short course championships earlier this month Payne said her body took all of the initial 800m swim to remember what to do. It was only in the 400m the next day that everything all came flooding back. ?That pain and the excitement ? it was all there again,? she said. ?I was quite pleased with the 400m as it was a gritty race and I was pleased to have got back into that fighting spirit.?
Payne is still weighing up whether to continue with the open water, or switch to the pool and concentrate on the Commonwealth Games. She intends to head to South Africa for the Midmar Mile swim near Pietermaritzburg, a race she has previously used as a pre-season warm up.
Payne is giving herself time to think about what to do. She knows she has unfinished business. That is what fourth place does to an athlete.