As a successful Olympic Swimmer, Karen Pickering won an outstanding 73 titles. Despite being advised to retire when she broke her back aged 24, Karen continued on to win two golds and silver in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Now running her own successful swim school, Karen is a testament to hard work and determination, making her a popular motivational speaker.
With a glittering international and Olympic swimming career behind her, Karen Pickering is a model of honesty, hard graft and success, as well as an accessible, down to earth endearing businesswoman and inspirational speaker. Karen’s work-life balance expertise has ensured that she is on top of her game even beyond her sporting peak.
Karen represented the UK at a senior level for 20 years. During her career, she won 35 championship medals, 38 National titles and competed in 4 consecutive Olympic Games. She was also the first British female swimmer ever to win a world championship title. Short-course World Champion and World Record holder, Karen was awarded an MBE in 1994 for her services to swimming.
At the age of 24 Karen broke her back in a car accident and despite hearing advice to give up, she took her success to an even higher level - the 2002 Commonwealth Games - where she won two golds and a silver medal in front of her home crowd, a career highlight which was crowned when she was given the honour of carrying the English flag at the Closing Ceremony.
Faced with retirement at the age of 33, Karen had to dig deep to find a way of remaining fulfilled without competitive swimming. Now a successful businesswoman running her own swim school, Karen has achieved a work-life balance and has remained in touch with her first love – swimming. She is also the founder of The Karen Pickering SWIM Foundation charity which helps schools fund swimming lessons.
She is Ambassador for Sport for Ipswich, a member of the Sport England Regional Sports Board and is Chair of the Olympic Committee of British Athletes Commission – a job that entailed a deep level of involvement in the planning of London 2012. She is founder of the Splash Awards -the only swimming awards held in the UK which celebrates the achievements of top flight swimmers from the past, present and future –and she was part of the Radio Five Live commentary team for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
A funny, honest and inspirational speaker, she delivers messages that apply in equal measure to the worlds of sport and business.